John Legend

Evolver

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Review

Evolver is more clever and appealing as an album title than Dabbler, yet the latter would be much more emblematic of John Legend's third studio album. Legend is up-front about his lane changes, which begin with the album's lead single, "Green Light," decked out in giddy synthesizers à la Paul McCartney's "A Wonderful Christmas Time" (or, OK, the glitziest part of Kanye West's "Flashing Lights") while benefiting from André 3000's off-the-cuff appearance. Following it is "It's Over," a relatively characteristic breakup song that continues to set the tone for the album's anything-goes nature. There's a show-stopping ballad, a reggae-flavored Estelle feature, flashes of tropical lushness, a couple throwbacks to soul-informed soft rock, a track full of chunky synth riffs, a brave topical message song to close, and a couple other diversions throughout. Legend often sounds like he is occupied by the satisfaction that comes with hearing what his vocal cords are capable of achieving. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi