Usher has the reputation as a loverman, largely because he fits the bill so well. He looks good, his material is smooth and seductive, and he has a nice voice, even if he tends to favor melisma. This has been true throughout his career, and remains true on his third album, 8701, a classy, seductive affair masterminded by Usher, Jermaine Dupri, and Antonio "L.A." Reid. There's not much new here, but Usher does move further in both directions -- the ballads are lusher, the dance numbers hit a bit harder -- but not so much so that it's really noticeable. Overall, the record is probably his strongest yet, but he still suffers from a lack of really memorable material (the singles usually are pretty good, but the album tracks are filler) and a tendency to oversing. Because of these two things, 8701 is more mood music than anything else, and while it does work fairly well on that level, it's not memorable outside of that mood.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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