Review: John Legend’s “Bigger Love”
On Juneteenth 2020 and in the middle of Black Music Month, pianist, producer, songwriter, and “Sexiest Man Alive” John Legend released a new album entitled Bigger Love and it is simply perfection.
As a long-time lover of John’s work, I’ve been waiting a while to be swept off my feet like I was with his older releases Once Again (2006), Evolver (2008), and Love In The Future (2013). Bigger Love was the thirst-quenching sound I have been yearning for, for quite some time. This album has that classic Legend sound and enough romance to last.
Below, I will highlight the songs that I feel totally made the album sonically decadent.
Ooh Laa- This sexy song is about Legend’s favorite friend. I’ll let you figure out who this “friend” is alone. The song sounds like something out of a 1950’s jukebox with a surprising Trap inspired beat intertwined. I like that Legend slightly stepped out of his comfort zone with a few titillating lyrics, however he kept it totally clean-cut and gentlemanly paradoxically.
Memorable Lyric – “You know I’m romantic. I’ll cross the Atlantic for that Ooh Laa.”
Actions – This song not only sounds amazing with it’s driving bass and drum combination, but what’s most distinctive is the lyrics. This is a song about not just saying ‘I love you’ with your words, but backing it up with consistency of actions. Here, Legend is totally self-effacing and admitting to his wrong doings in his relationship.
In Actions, he is ready to clean up his act and be the kind of man that proves himself to his lover everyday, not just with pretty poetry and bonny songs.
Memorable Lyric – “Want to show my love is strong. Make her feel it when I’m home. No faking, no mistaking. She can feel it when I’m gone.”
I Do – This song is a lovely track about hoping that love is more than a passing fancy. What’s special about this rendering is that it plays on the popular wedding vow “I do”, by begging the question in a different way.
“I do” is used as a question and an affirmation simultaneously- a literal genius move. The lush strings in the song’s break-down only adds to the romantic interrogation.
Memorable Lyric – “When I think about the messes I’ve made. Think about the rest of my days; I wonder if you stay with me or walk away?”
U Move, I Move– This number is ethereal. A song so gorgeous I had to literally walk away from it a few times. This time Legend collaborates with the beautiful Jhene Aiko and the compensation for the listener is purity and sincerity.
A song about being totally in love and in tune with another person. Like two planets revolving around each other, seeking balance and worship. My weak words do it little justice, listen for yourself.
Memorable Lyric– “If you ever hurt, then I’m gonna bleed. But I’ll pick you up and put you back on your feet. That’s how this works, I put you first.”
Remember Us– This song starts with the backing vocals and strings that must have been a sound captured from heaven’s gate. A string filled ballad about remembering what love first felt like without the trials of time.
Rapper Rapsody joins the track with a sweet tribute to Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant and fun throwback memories of first love.
This elegant ensemble ends with reverb/call and response that mimics a dream sequence in an old black and white movie. This song is a real gemstone I wish I could adorn myself with and wear throughout entirety.
Memorable Lyric – “Oooh, we laughed without borders. Oooh, we broke all the rules. Oooh but gravity caught us, ahhh let’s go back to the moon.”
The Final Note
In the center of world chaos and disorder, John Legend gifted his audience something akin to balm of Gilead. The album is soothing to our mental wounds and anguish in such perilous times.
Bigger Love reminds me of receiving a big box of Valentine’s Day chocolate – filled with a flavor for every taste, but the intention behind the gesture is most importantly love.
In a musical world were the true human voice and real instrumentation is profoundly missed, Mr. Legend came right on time to deliver an album that feels and sounds sincere.
I highly recommend Bigger Love to everyone, It’s almost 56 minutes of blissful escapism we all could use.