Brian McKnight

Greatest Hits

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On Just Me, Brian McKnight works almost exclusively with his sons, Brian Jr. and Nico, and comes up with an album that is part experiment, part return to form. The results are mixed. One of the surprises comes with "Fall 5.0," a classic heart-struck McKnight song if not for some use of Auto-Tune, which trivializes the sentiment. "Husband 2.0" is a conflicted, teeth-gritted rocker. Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" gets a bleary acoustic jazz overhaul. The closing "Just Me," a naked piano ballad, features some of McKnight's most frank lyrics: "Life can be shit/I wouldn't change one day of it." Two of the disc’s better songs, where McKnight sounds most natural, come across as thinly veiled tributes; "Temptation" owes so much to Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" that it might as well be titled "You Want Me (The Wrong Way)," while "Without You" is clearly inspired by '70s Stevie Wonder. Longtime fans not open to the new developments should be more satisfied with the second disc, an intimate and biographical live set that is twice as long as the studio album. Alone with his acoustic guitar or piano, McKnight runs through many of his hits and throws in some covers, including a patch that incorporates Nat King Cole, Stevie, and Michael Jackson.

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