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Thursday, July 30, 2009

8/1: John Legend at Nautica Pavilion

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 12:30 PM

John Legend is one of the most soulless soul singers around. The 30-year-old Ohio native gets tons of props from fans and critics for bringing R&B back to its old-school roots (his music includes inspiration from the church to ’70s radio jams). Thing is, Legend’s silky-smooth baritone doesn’t have much range. He doesn’t belt out songs like his peers. And he makes it all sound so effortless — almost too effortless, like the dude ain’t even trying. Still, Legend’s ties to Kanye West led to some prime spots on songs by Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys before he launched a solo career five years ago. His latest album, Evolver, includes more of the same bedroom soul and piano ballads that have attracted so many fans. But Legend comes off as such a classy alternative to all those other R&B crooners, he turns out to be a major party-pooper at times. There are a few Evolver cuts where he lightens up a little (like on “Green Light,” a club hit with André 3000). But too often Legend’s buttoned-down soul rarely works up enough passion for the bedroom or elsewhere. Legend plays the Nautica Pavilion (2014 Sycamore St., 216.622.6557) with India.Arie opening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $31.50-$76. — Michael Gallucci

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