Going by this high-concept return, it’s apparent that Ne-Yo was not strictly invested in the output of others -- Rihanna, Raheem DeVaughn, Monica, Rick Ross, and Fantasia, to name a few -- after the release of Year of the Gentleman. Although Libra Scale sounds like a natural extension of the singer/songwriter’s three-album 2006-2008 run, its germination started with a short story, which inspired the ten songs. Some of the details were revealed in the videos for the singles, as well as the album’s booklet, containing a comic put together with living legend Stan Lee. Disregard the dressing, and Libra Scale can be heard as a standard Ne-Yo album. It does not sound like a soundtrack for a story about three garbage men who must protect their city -- there are no character themes, likely for the better -- but one can hear most of the material being expressed by the protagonist as he lives it up, develops a relationship, and deals with the consequences. Most of Libra Scale consists of Ne-Yo's typical modern uptown R&B, with the relaxed, upscale party anthem “Champagne Life,” the sweet devotional “One in a Million,” and the private-reflecting-pond ballad “What Have I Done?” the standouts. “Beautiful Monster,” a Euro-flavored dance-pop single full of drama, is the only song that sounds out of place (and it stalled in the 60s of the Billboard R&B chart). The level of sophistication -- arrangements with subtle details, the frequency of slow tempos, a couple well-trodden motifs -- lends itself to a couple tepid tunes, but Ne-Yo remains a premier source of R&B that is both traditional and contemporary.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2