Lionel Richie

Just Go

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2006's Coming Home was Lionel Richie's most commercially successful release since 1986's Dancing on the Ceiling. It was the first time since then that one of the singer's albums peaked within the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Much of its success could be attributed to "I Call It Love," a collaboration with StarGate. So, on Just Go, Richie's fourth studio set of the 2000s, he continues to work with StarGate and adds some of their hitmaking contemporaries, namely Akon and the duo of Terius "The-Dream" Nash and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart (Rihanna's "Umbrella," Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," the-Dream's own hits). The two Akon collaborations are dominated by Akon, who co-writes, co-produces, and gets co-performance credits on both. Even on "Nothing Left to Give," the album's festive, anthemic, percussion-stuffed song à la "All Night Long" -- there has been one on nearly every Richie album since Can't Slow Down on -- Akon unsurprisingly writes a lead that could have been voiced by him, from its cadence to the melodically restricted hook. Nash and Stewart are less heavy-handed on their four songs, tending to meet Richie half way with a soothing, modern frame work. In these songs, as well as the five featuring StarGate's input, Richie is much more at home. Introducing a 60-year-old artist to a younger audience with new material is asking for a lot, but Richie's devoted fanbase will find plenty to like. Just Go, slightly more so than Coming Home, tends to be a happy (and comforting) medium between Richie's familiar approach and contemporary R&B.

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