Marques Houston

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Naked Review

by Andy Kellman

Whenever an album is titled Naked, the odds are pretty strong that it's the second or third release from a young solo artist who wants to get personal: "I wanted to give my fans a more intimate look at who I am"; "I called this album Naked because I'm not ashamed of my emotions"; "I just went through a lot of drama, and I'm an adult now, so these songs are very deep as a result." In Marques Houston's case -- a solo artist with a debut behind him -- the odds are pretty strong that he means "naked" in the physical sense, not the emotional sense. Naked is no deeper than 2003's MH, which most of his fans will find perfectly acceptable. It offers a similar mix of earnest slow jams and sexually frank club tracks. The best moments involve adequate production facsimiles of Just Blaze ("12 O'Clock"'s marching band punch), Kanye West (the blissful "All Because of You," laced with a smart Whispers sample), and the Neptunes ("Something Else," where Houston's falsetto is more Michael Jackson than Pharrell Williams). Another thing that works to Houston's benefit is the shorter running time: Naked's 11 songs are a lot easier to digest than MH's 17, which also means that there's better quality control.

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