Each Dwele album should have greater, Maxwell-level anticipation. The singer should headline over the majority of contemporary R&B stars instead of open for Maze. (That's not a knock on Maze.) It's not like Dwele isn't in a comfortable spot, though. His releases routinely debut in the Top Ten of the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and he's allowed to continue recording with no detectable creative restrictions, as heard on Greater Than One. Once he got deep into the making of this, his fifth album, he noticed a pervasive "'80s" feel. In this case, '80s often means the sophisticated type of R&B-jazz hybrids -- the mellow grooves -- actively played on Detroit stations like WJZZ during the earlier part of that decade. While that has always been part of Dwele's sound, it's a little more pronounced here; there are instances where he could easily slip into some Pieces of a Dream or, given the continued presence of his brother Antwan on trumpet, anything featuring Seawind's Jerry Hey. On "This Love," produced by Prince "BlkMagic" Damons, the sound shifts from 1980/1981 to 1982/1983-style midtempo boogie with chunky synthesizer bass, and a little high-pitched wriggle. There's some electro-funk bounce to "Patrick Ronald" (long for a certain brand of tequila, featuring Monica Blaire, one of album's several Detroit guest stars) and "Special," too. If anything, the album is looser, more relaxed and mischievous, than any Dwele album that preceded it, which is saying something. The majority of the songwriting, as usual, concerns adventures in mature bachelorhood and courtship. Dwele continues to appeal to both female and male listeners -- no pandering, no forced masculinity to be heard.
Greater Than One Review
by Andy Kellman