Picks and Pans Review: Hurt No More

updated 05/17/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/17/2004 01:00AM

R&B

Mario Winans

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Mario Winans brings a lot of musical credibility to this, his second CD. As a producer and songwriter, he has worked with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez. And he comes from the first family of gospel, the Winanses. Unlike mom Vickie, uncle BeBe and aunt CeCe, however, Winans, 29, steers clear of Sunday-morning material on this R&B release. The hit first single, "I Don't Wanna Know," is about a cheating girlfriend whose creeping Winans would rather ignore. "I don't wanna know/ If you're playing me, keep it on the low," he sings against a hypnotic hip-hop backdrop built around a sample from Enya's "Boadicea." Add in an unusually understated rap from P. Diddy, who signed Winans to his Bad Boy Records, and you have one of the best songs on the radio right now. Unfortunately, there is nothing else here that measures up to "I Don't Wanna Know." While Winans continues to show refreshing vulnerability on tracks like "Disbelief," a few formulaic hip-hop numbers (featuring the obligatory guest rappers) and some sound-alike slow jams hurt this disc. Still, his smooth vocals, lush production and sensitive lyrics on cuts such as the ballad "3 Days Ago" and the sensual midtempo "I Got You Babe" (not a remake of the Sonny & Cher hit) make for good mood music.

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