Can We Fall In Love (released July 10, 2020)
The rumors of Avant’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Literally and metaphoriaclly.
It wasn’t too long ago that a few poorly-lit Instagram photos had the world of R&B writing off not just the career but the life of Myron Lavell Avant. While it’s true he has had a few health challenges in recent years, there’s no need for Twitter to start picking out the homie’s burial plot.
He’s got a lot more living to do, and much more music to share.
Avant’s been one of the more unsung artists in recent memory. His string of hits in the early 2000s are fondly remembered but not as celebrated as they should be. Even his more recent albums lacked fanfare but were quite strong in the own right – 2013’s Face the Music immediately springs to mind.
Twenty years after we were introduced to the guy who humming about separating from the woman he can’t stand, Avant returns with Can We Fall in Love, his ninth LP.
It’s a reminder that’s he’s still here, and still full of life.
The best thing I can say about Can We Fall in Love is that it’s an Avant album.
Before you hit me with the Antonie Dodson “well, obviously” meme, hear me out: We’re in an era were, for better or worse, many beloved legends are in total reinvention mode. There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on your fave’s new song and hearing Future-sounding karaoke. For the most part, this Avant album SOUNDS like an Avant album, which is great news for Day One fans aching for a return to the glory days.
Avant sticks to the script on the opener “You Don’t Love Me No More,” featuring his distinct, mid-tempo sound. Y’all know by now I’m a sucker for a well-placed horn, which makes its soothing presence on the song’s outro pretty magical. The title track maintains a thumping, gentle pace that’s perfect for a summer evening – socially distanced, of course.
First single “Edible” is full of the playful innuendos that characterized Avant’s early hits. “Live a Lie” also feels like a return to the good old days, with Avant bearing his soul to his current cuddy buddy on wax. In a pleasant surprise, renowned Robert Glasper also slides through for “Take It Slow,” a creeping bedroom burner for those quarantined nights.
Though all the above songs are cut from the usual Avant cloth, he does try a bit of experimentation here and there, with mixed results. “All in My Head” puts a more modern spin on his vocal delivery. It’s not totally out of place but does feel a bit off. “Irreplaceable” (no, not that one) revisits the island-themed production that’s been all the rage for the past few years. It’s another OK effort that doesn’t really stand out from the pack. Meanwhile, “Nothing Without You” is the prototypical “vibey” track that works a bit better since it compliments Avant’s tone so well.
Can We Fall in Love starts out strongly thanks to Avant remaining in his sonic wheelhouse. Even when he ventures out – with the throwback feel of “Not Gone Lose,” for example – the energy is still there. Things do slow down noticeably in the second half of the album, which really needed a standout track to pick things up.
At just 10 tracks and under 40 minutes, Can We Fall in Love is an easy listen that proves Avant still has some gas left in the tank. It may not reach the upper echelon of Avant’s deep discography but it’s a solid reminder that he’s still got a lot of life left.
Best tracks: “Can We Fall in Love,” “You Don’t Love Me No More,” “Edible”
3.5 stars out of 5