Updated: Oct 23
After initially announcing his retirement following his 2020 album, Exodus, R&B singer Brian McKnight has returned with his latest album, McKnighttime Lullabies. McKnight's experience as a father inspired him to create a collection of songs that offer a calming and enjoyable listening experience for parents and children alike.
The debut single from the album is a rendition of "Rainbow Connection," originally performed by Kermit The Frog. I must admit, Brian's approach to the song intrigued me. The combination of his smooth vocals and the background instrumentation gives the track an Urban Adult Contemporary vibe.
McKnight successfully preserves the song's original message, which centers around optimism, hope, and perseverance. Those familiar with the song will confirm that the lyrics convey the idea of seeking something beyond the ordinary and desiring to uncover the simple beauty in life. From my perspective, it seems that McKnight chose to cover the song to provide a source of relief for new parents who may experience stress when their newborns cry incessantly late at night.
The second single from the album is "Baby Instructions". In this song, Brian McKnight sings from the perspective of a newborn baby. Usually, this kind of creative approach is used for comedic effect, as seen in movies like Look Who's Talking and the animated series, Rugrats. However, as an R&B song, it didn't quite hit the mark for me. While I must admit that McKnight's voice sounds great, something doesn't feel right about the song to me.
The rest of the album fails to impress from any angle. Even for him, his cover of "You Are My Sunshine" is overly sentimental. "Aloha" is like the redheaded stepbrother of "Baby Instructions" and falls into the same trap of just being weird. "Dyepy Time" might be the worst thing McKnight has ever recorded. I can't fathom why he included this track on the album instead of making a jingle deal with Pampers.
The song "Bath" tries to create a mature and sultry groove but unfortunately fails, sounding more like an inebriated R&B version of the popular children's book "Go The F To Sleep." Similarly, "I Love You" lacks variety and features the singer repeating the same three words for almost three minutes. However, the album makes up for it towards the end with the beautiful ballads "See You Again" and "My Legacy," which showcase McKnight's talent, washing away the unpleasant aftertaste of the preceding songs.
I didn't anticipate that McKnight would try to relive his past successes, but unfortunately, his newest album, McKnighttime Lullabies, seems more like a personal indulgence than a genuine artistic project. It might have been wiser to release separate EPs tailored to different audiences, the first for R&B and jazz fans and the second for parents and grandparents with young children.
Final Grade: D+
McKnighttime Lullabies is available on all streaming platforms.