A Genuwine-ly Disappointing Album

R&B balladeer Ginuwine gets boring as he gets older

Ginuwine

A Man's Thoughts (Notifi/Asylum/Warner Brothers)

Ginuwine's famous debut The Bachelor had an absolutely distinctive sound, thanks to his own unmistakable moan and to Timbaland's dexterously throbbing production. Thirteen years later, the moan remains, more or less, but the vision doesn't. The first single off A Man's Thoughts, "The Last Chance," has a nice mellow hook which Timbaland might have elevated to grandeur back in the day. Now, though, Ginuwine has to fall back on cutesy references to Michael Jordan and Obama in a desperate effort to distinguish himself from every other decent mid-tempo balladeer on the radio. Even a much-ballyhooed reunion with the Timbaland on "Get Involved" doesn't recapture the old magic. Ciara's "Love Sex Magic" is, alas, a better Mosley knock-off than Mosley himself could manage here.

This isn't to say that the album's bad, just that it's kind of anonymous. Especially when his collaborators provide a spark, Ginuwine can still shine. "Trouble"—in which Ginuwine warns a female dancer that she's getting a rise out of him, as it were—is both funny and blessed with a deftly swinging beat courtesy of Inferno Jackson. Brandy sounds amazing over an alternately sparse and sweeping production on "Bridge to Love." And even without guests stars "Lying to Each Other" manages to be a poignant, mature song about a dying relationship. Ginuwine definitely seems to have grown up. It's too bad that for him, as for so many of us, getting older also means getting blander.