For lack of a more creative expression, it’s safe to say, Lyfe Jennings literally puts his foot in his latest release, Tree of Lyfe. The album, his sixth release in an 11 year career, is R&B gold of this year and rivals some of the best of from years past. Prior to this release I had internal debates as to whether his debut, Lyfe 268-192 or if his coming of age album, I Still Believe we’re his best works. Tree of Lyfe leaves little doubt that it’s his best work, musically.
The album opens with “I Love You,” the album’s second single, which has a Motown era sound to it. One of Lyfe’s favorites from the project is sure to resonate with listeners from the beginning.
So many of the songs on Tree of Lyfe are simply written with a easy sing along melody, but they pack such a strong message that can tug at the heart strings of the listener. This has generally been the approach for Lyfe throughout his career but this time it’s not so rough around the edges, and doesn’t come off as preachy either. “She Don’t Wanna” is a clear example of this, a song for men, inspired by women, about men who string women along. It’s uptempto with a serious feel, but fun at the same time. Another simple treasure is his Marvin Gaye inspired “People.” Lyfe explains that the album is a song that came to him through a dream by way of the legendary Gaye, and it pays homage to the great while it has all the styling of Lyfe.
Lyfe is supported in the heart of the album by Algebra Blassett on “We’re Not The Same” and Demetria McKinney on “Talkin Bout Love.” Both songs make for strong duets and remind the listener of the stunning compatibility of Lyfe with a lovely woman’s voice.
Lyfe is still true to self, and bring enough of his edge on “Hashtag.” the advice and motivation for the ladies is there too on a song like “Pretty Is,” but he doesn’t over do it like say a “Statistics,” he simply acknowledges, “you’ll always be pretty because you fall and get up…”
Tree of Lyfe is clearly a result of a refreshed mind. With his legal issues long behind him, and his days as an independent artist all but over, he seems to be refocused and reenergized on making quality music. And that’s great news for all of us.
Tree of Lyfe receives a PARLÉ
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