Part of Elliott Yamin's charm lies in how he doesn't seem to belong to his time. A disciple of Donny Hathaway (and to a lesser extent, Stevie Wonder), Yamin never felt comfortable in contemporary threads, whether it was during his time on American Idol or afterward, when he cut his eponymous first album in 2007. That record was perched between his classicism and flirtations with contemporary R&B, but its 2009 successor, Fight for Love, tips the scales decidedly in the favor of aggressive modern flavors, a shift perhaps tipped off by its combative title. Moving in this direction only makes sense -- in order to make records, he has to sell records, and to do that he has to have songs that sound like the times. The problem for Yamin is that his husky voice bristles against the cold, sequenced rhythms that comprise Fight for Love, creating not tension but dissonance. Of course, it would help if he had compelling material, either songs or productions, but everything here feels written to convention instead of written to order. Yamin remains an ingratiating presence, possessed with a natural, almost accidental charm that's so endearing that it's hard not to wish that he was in warmer surroundings than these, or at least had a better collection of songs to sing.
Fight for Love Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine