Wayne Wonder

Foreva

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Four years separate Wayne Wonder's 2007 effort Foreva from his breakthrough album, No Holding Back -- and its massive hit, "No Letting Go" -- and little changed in that time. Wonder's swagger is still convincing, his reggae is still pop, and romance is still the thing. If there's any evolution in his sound, it's that R&B now plays an even larger role, something to be expected seeing as how "No Letting Go" was that rare reggae tune that crossed over onto urban radio. More Babyface than Bob Marley, the polished ballad "Again" suggests Wonder enjoyed this taste of fame quite a bit, which doesn't mean the radio-friendly track isn't well written or that the singer doesn't pour his heart into it. The exciting "For My Love" with rapper Trina mentions "Jamaica" and "the Yard" just to make listeners aware it's filed in the "reggae" section, but when the ballads mistake smooth jazz for R&B, they come dangerously close to schmaltz. The island-flavored tracks are much more consistent, with the bouncing, smile-inducing "Hotter Than Fire" leading the pack, although the closing "Take It Off" deserves special mention since it's the one time the album lets raw, rough dancehall music enter the picture (plus, the guest DJ's name is Mr. Chicken). Trim off the few tracks where Foreva stumbles, and you're left with a solid, seductive album.

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