by Ore Fakorede
Chances are, über-successful artistes such as Usher, Beyoncé, Chris Brown and Rihanna would have been mentioned several times over in a roll call of R&B singers long before a name like Ginuwine’s would come up. Yet, while his achievements might have been eclipsed by those of less-traditional artistes, Ginuwine’s musical and lyrical styles helped craft the present-day nature of R&B.
Four variedly successful albums, dozens of collaborations and a solitary Soul Train Music Award later, Ginuwine the veteran re-enters the fray with Elgin, a ballad-ridden 14-track album. Referred to by the singer as “true substance R&B”, Mr. Lumpkin’s latest offering might well be his most personal work yet. Coming on the heels of 2009’s A Man’s Thoughts, on which Ginuwine reconciled with his old-time associate and friend, Timbaland, after a five-year rift, Elgin is a chip off the old, heart-shaped, block.
More lucidly put, the album is largely a collection of laid-back staples that explore love, sex and associated subjects. With Ginuwine doing most of the songwriting, the lyrical quality of the songs, though not at all outstanding, is hardly mediocre. On most of the tracks here, Ginuwine carries on a monologue, addressing a lover with his sultry voice tinged appropriately with regret, lust, longing and other emotions as the audio ambience requires.
Lacking the futuristic sounds supplied by Timbaland’s creative genius on his first and second albums, Elgin profiles a tame and unadventurous Ginuwine. An album based on a measure of retrospection, with new material styled after a number of his popular hits, would have been more appreciated. Instead, Ginuwine is content with offering a tired, sex-laden modern R&B theme without the slightest attempt at reinventing the wheel.
In comparison, R. Kelly did a more excellent job by going retro on Love Letter, last year’s critically acclaimed homage to Motown. Sadly, uninspired songwriting and hackneyed instrumentals have robbed Ginuwine of yet another runaway hit in Elgin.