Libra Scale was the first Ne-Yo release that failed to go platinum. The quasi-concept album didn't come close to making it halfway there. The singer and songwriter, however, wasn't on the brink of recording covers for Shanachie. The album's "Champagne Life" was long lasting on commercial radio, and featured spots on Pitbull's "Give Me Everything" (number one Hot 100), Young Jeezy's "Leave You Alone" (number three Hot R&B/Hip-Hop), and Calvin Harris' "Let's Go" (number 17, Hot 100) propped him up through the release of this, his first album for Motown -- the label employing him as Senior Vice President of A&R. Given Ne-Yo's success with Euro-flavored dance-pop and the continued marginalization of R&B, chances were slim that he would be inspired by his new label to stick to the latter genre. In terms of its place in the Motown legacy, R.E.D. is much closer to a modern-day Dancing on the Ceiling -- with several variations on the title track -- than In a Special Way. This is actually back-loaded with dance-pop; while the serviceable but indistinct "Let Me Love You" comes along early and the dance-pop/R&B hybrid "Be the One" leads the second half, the three-track closing stretch reveals dance-pop as the dominant style. Ne-Yo does not go through the motions, but the songs carry an air of "going about my job in a compliant, professional manner." There's a poor contemporary country duet co-written by Luke Laird (Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Eric Church) and co-sung by Tim McGraw, as well as a middling and vaguely cathartic adult contemporary ballad. The highlights are all casual, subtle, finely detailed midtempo numbers and slow jams. What's truly disappointing is the absence of energetic songs descended from soul and funk. It's something Ne-Yo and a decreasing number of major-label R&B artists have supplied the last few years, and nothing here is in the vein -- or on the level -- of "It Just Ain't Right," "Because of You," "Nobody," or "Champagne Life."
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman