Usher pleads his case on his sixth album Raymond v. Raymond, in stores today. After a two-year absence, what was the verdict with critics? Find out below.
Entertainment Weekly: Usher’s sixth album has been billed as his most intimate yet, but aside from the last-straw slow jam “Papers,” which explictly details the dissolution of his marriage, and heartfelt cheater’s mea culpa “Foolin’ Around,” Raymond v. Raymond doesn’t offer much real revelation. Its main aim is more standard issue: Sleek, grown-and-sexy R&B tuned to seduction, not divorce court. B-
USA Today: Usher used to be good at crooning slyly libidinous slow jams and dance-tastic hits, like crunk treat “Yeah!” But the bulk of these 14 tracks traffic in lusty yet lackluster R&B jams lazily strewn with ooohs, grunts and generic club beats. 2.5 out of 4
New York Daily News: Of course, comparisons to a blockbuster CD like Confessions always prove a losing game for the artist. But at least Raymond v. Raymond has more verve than Here I Stand. It’s solidly listenable and Usher’s voice has never sounded more sinewy. In an age of Auto-Tune, it’s nice to hear an R&B singer who doesn’t need it, even if market forces did entice him to indulge it in that cynical will.i.am song. 2.5 out of 5
The Washington Post: Usher manages to make some great music, especially when he appears to be getting his bearings back as a single man and heartthrob. “Pro Lover” is a crackling player’s anthem, “Guilty” without the guilt, and “Okay” is a fast-paced ride.
Chicago Tribune: “Foolin’ Around” delivers a straying husband’s mea culpa, only to see his marriage end in tears and “Papers.” It’s the kind of lacerating perspective that adulthood brings, but Usher’s too busy chasing his past to fully embrace it. 2.5 out of 4
Boston Herald: Aside from those confusing confessionals, the 31-year-old is back to the playboy ways he swore he’d left behind. Usher’s 180-degree turn from devoted husband to thrill-seeking player has made his tales decidedly less believable, but it hasn’t compromised the quality of his music. B+
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home),” “Lil Freak,” “Guilty”