Outside of some significant background details, nothing about Hurt No More is radically exceptional. It is, however, full of small surprises. Not only is it a Winans record with a parental advisory sticker; it's also a Bad Boy release with production and instrumental duties handled by one person. That person is Mario Winans, whose return as a solo artist was announced by a Top Five single that is literally haunted by the spirit of Enya circa 1987. Primarily a producer and multi-instrumentalist, with credits up the ying-yang for big-name gospel and secular artists alike, Winans' rebirth as a solo artist -- after a false start with Motown in 1997 -- is as rich as humbled, sincerely sensitive male R&B gets in 2004. Lead single "I Don't Wanna Know" trumps Ruben Studdard's "Sorry 2004" as the most touching R&B single by a broken-spirited male for 2004, made by a subdued drum pattern, Enya's ambient presence, a sprinkle of piano, and Winans' hushed, pained vocal -- which begs his woman to keep her infidelities low-key. Winans has experience making a wide range of music for others, but he excels most at creating slow, sophisticated grooves for himself. Songs of this kind make up most of this album, and that aspect has a lot to do with why the record is successful. Winans doesn't wear the few occurrences of harder-edged material so well -- "Pretty Girl Bullsh*t," featuring an ill-matched verse from Foxy Brown, is particularly out of character and disrupts the lush, sensual flow of the record. A couple minor blunders like that hardly prevent Hurt No More from being one of the finest R&B albums of the year.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Puff Daddy
feat: Foxy Brown
feat: Black Rob