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John Legend 

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Wednesday, Feb 9 2005
With neo-soul backdrops and a voice that exudes a sexy sort of sadness, John Legend clearly resides in the house that Stevie built. And like late-era Stevie Wonder, this album does occasionally dip into cheesy sentimentalism (see the oh-so-inflected mess that is "So High"), but there's enough funk in Legend's trunk to ensure that this isn't just make-out music. Songs such as the heartfelt "Refugee (When It's Cold Outside)" and the gospel-tinged "It Don't Have to Change" prove that you don't need to be a pussy to wear your heart on your sleeve. And by the time producer-turned-megalomaniac and frequent Legend collaborator Kanye West shows up for the infectious "I Used to Love Her," you're ready to snatch the crown off the head of the freshly imprisoned D'Angelo and declare John Legend the king of neo-soul.

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Sam Chennault


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