Picks and Pans Review: Usher

UPDATED 06/02/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/02/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT

Here I Stand |

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R&B

The most telling moment on this follow-up to 2004's smash Confessions comes when Usher's 6-month-old son makes a cameo. Just a kid himself when he made his recording debut in 1993, Usher, who turns 30 in October, became a father and a husband last year, and Here I Stand positions him as a family man. Such declarations of devotion as the player-repenting "Before I Met You" and the heartfelt, Donny Hathawayesque title track sound as if they were written in between his-and-hers massages on his honeymoon. Even the steamy stuff, like the creamy-smooth "Love You Gently," is more about getting it on with that one special lady. Musically Usher takes a more mature stance as well, leaning heavily—a little too heavily—on ballads. But some killer slow jams should help him keep millions of other ladies happy too.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "This Ain't Sex," a funky, Prince-meets-Michael jam

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