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Album Review : Usher, Coming Home

Before his Superbowl Halftime Show appearance, R&B superstar Usher returns to music with his ninth album, "Coming Home." It's hard to believe that the singer has been in the game for three-plus decades. Following his diamond-selling "Confessions" album twenty years ago, some fans have found Usher's subsequent albums to be hit or miss. Without a doubt, "Here I Stand" and "Raymond Vs. Raymond" were solid albums, and there were a few bright spots in "Looking For Myself." However, "A" and "Hard II Love" were major disappointments and did not meet my expectations.

Starting in 2019, Usher released strong singles such as "Don't Waste My Time," "Bad Habits," and "Glu" (none of which are included on this album). He also commenced a successful Vegas residency. How does this new project compare as he prepares to perform on one of the most prominent entertainment stages in the world?

"Coming Home" starts with a titular track and features an appearance from Burna. The track has a binary vibe as one of the vibes finds Usher reclaiming his throne in R&B, and another finds Usher crooning to his partner about his sex game. The infectious lead single "Good Good" is up next and still sounds good. Latoo appears on the catchy "A-Town Girl," which samples a Billy Joel classic. The next trio of songs all have somewhat of a filler vibe, but the album finds its footing again with the lush "Risk It All."

The second half of the album is where Usher really shines. On the one hand, Usher is singing about the usual tropes we'd expect. "On The Side" is his declaration to side chicks, "I Am The Party" is his bravado song, "I Love U," "Luckiest Man" pays homage to a special lady, and "Please U" is the baby maker. While Usher does lean heavily into the R&B thuggery on a few of those, his voice is in top form, and I hope a few of them make the setlist for his upcoming tour.

On the downside, the album contains twenty tracks, which makes it overlong and eschews mediocrity. "Margiela" and "Big" are two songs that find the singer attempting to reclaim the glory he had with "OMG" and pop sounds. These songs feel out of place on the album. Additionally, I'm not entirely convinced by the singles "Ruin" and "Standing Next To You". Usher may have been better off offering vocal assistance on both tracks and letting the featured artists shine on them.

Despite some sequencing issues, "Coming Home" is Usher's strongest album in a decade. While I would have trimmed it down to about twelve songs, the good does outweigh the bad.

Final Grade: B

"Coming Home" releases tomorrow February 9th.

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