The Remedy (released June 21, 2011)
No, this isn’t a “What Ever Happened to…” column, although it easily could be. Jagged Edge could rightfully claim to be R&B’s last successful male group. Heck, they may be the last successful R&B group period.
Going all the way back to 1997, JE’s road to stardom has been paved with platinum and gold success. “I Gotta Be,” “Let’s Get Married” and its remix (required for every wedding reception), “Promise,” “Where Da Party At?,” “Walked Outta Heaven” – JE cranked out hit after hit until about five years ago, when the group began to struggle finding a balance between ballads and uptempo numbers. Unfortunately, that indecision led to mediocrity and JE slid into the abyss that has swallowed nearly every R&B group from the 90s. Total and Somethin’ for the People still haven’t made their way out.
The Remedy is a return to JE’s slow-jam roots and here’s the good news – in that respect, it’s much more successful than 2007’s Baby Makin’ Project. In fact, this album should have been called the Baby Makin’ Project – it’s all about romance. That is, if you consider songs entitled “When the Bed Shakes” romance.
“Love On You” and “Flow Thru My Veins” is vintage JE – their vocals are just as entrancing as they were in 1997. And for the most part, the album maintains a steady pace between slow burners like “Let’s Make Love” and the mid-tempo grooves of the first single “Lay You Down.” On the rare occasion when the tempo picks up the album remains cohesive. The upbeat “Baby” is perfect for radio play but doesn’t feel out of place, thanks to some Jodeci-styled harmonizing. I even enjoyed “Lipstick” despite Rick Ross’s ridiculously tacked-on verse, comparing women to egg rolls. Ugh. F-F-F-Fatback Music.
But Jagged Edge’s return to form also means the return of their biggest weakness – poor songwriting. Go back and listen to 2003’s “Walked Outta Heaven.” I love that track but it’s far from a lyrical masterpiece – “scared like a child that’s lost at seven?” The awkwardness continues on The Remedy. The wifey walked in on me while I was listening to “Space Ship” and her reaction was “what ARE you listening to?” With lyrics like “we used to be like music/now we’re tone deaf and they’re booing,” I can’t blame her.
The Remedy is certainly not as schizophrenic as JE’s last albums, but its major drawback is that it’s a bit TOO cohesive. Thanks to similar production and themes, about half of the tracks blend into each other. I guess that’s cool if you’re trying to set the mood but it’s hard for anything to make a lasting impression.
JE’s new set doesn’t quite measure up to their greatest work, but it’s a success nonetheless. The group has finally rediscovered its identity, making The Remedy the cure for the common R&B album.
Best tracks: “Love on You,” “Baby,” “Flow Thru My Veins”
3.5 stars out of 5