Leroy Hutson

The Man!

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After a promising start with the smooth soul of Love Oh Love, Leroy Hutson set out to establish himself as a multi-hyphenate soul artist in the vein of Stevie Wonder on The Man! Indeed, the cover of the album promotes him as a "writer/producer/artist/superstar." While the resulting album leaves no doubts as to his technical skill as a writer and producer, The Man! shows that Hutson was better as a craftsman than an artist, and that he lacked the top-shelf material to be a superstar. Although the album benefits from tight arrangements and slick production, the material never quite lives up to its sense of ambition; "Can't Say Enough About Mom" is a family values tune that suffers from dull, obvious lyrics and an overblown arrangement, while "Gotta Move Gotta Groove" is a tale of musician life that lacks the specific insights and clever lyricism that would help it rise above the norm. The album also suffers from padding despite its short length, the worst example being "Dudley Doright," a grating novelty tune that wrecks its potentially funky groove with silly horse-snort sound effects. Despite this dearth of fully-realized material, The Man! has its moments: "Ella Weez" is a likable slice of up-tempo pop soul built on a catchy call-and-response vocal hook, and "The Ghetto '74" is Hutson's smooth update of a mostly-instrumental hit he wrote for Donny Hathaway. However, moments like these are the exception instead of the rule, and The Man! ends up being too uninspired and generic to live up to its title.

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