Jackiem Joyner achieved a career breakthrough with his third album, Lil' Man Soul, which produced two number one smooth jazz singles in "I'm Waiting for You" and "Take Me There." Yet he has moved on, recording his fourth album for a new label, Mack Avenue, and self-titling it as if to signal a reboot in his recording approach. He begins with the densely percussive hip-hop track of "The Reunion," over which he solos in his usual melodic style. "Dance with Me" opens with a Spanish guitar and adds a Latin flavor. On these original tunes, Joyner sounds far more involved than he does on the album's several covers. Although there are no guest vocalists to assure airplay, the saxophonist does include Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall," Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," and Jennifer Hudson's "If This Isn't Love." Maybe his affection for the original versions handcuffs him, but on these songs, he doesn't do much more than stand in for the vocalists with his horn on arrangements similar to the hit recordings. It's striking that, right after "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," he digs into "Push," his own version of a Jackson-like dance track, and again becomes passionate about his playing. If this album has hits to match Lil' Man Soul, they should be songs like that and the lyrical closer, "My Last Goodbye," not the covers.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann