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CD Review: Usher 

Raymond v Raymond (LaFace/ Jive)

You can take the title of Usher Raymond's sixth album a couple of ways. The 31-year-old R&B singer divorced his wife in November after a tumultuous two-year marriage. The hitmaker also fights two sides of himself on Raymond v Raymond: the carefree clubbing loverboy and the resentful divorced father. Fun Usher ultimately beats out Bitter Usher, but the album would be much better if he'd just stay home and reflect on what went wrong. Raymond v Raymond is more than half over before it gets to the good stuff. The ballad "Foolin' Around" touches on Usher's infidelities, before he turns the tables in the album's best song, "Papers" (as in divorce documents): "I done damn near lost my mama, I done been through so much drama," he sings over one of the record's strongest beats (which are hit-and-miss throughout, depending on the setting and situation). "There are three sides to every story," Usher proclaims at the very start of Raymond v Raymond. "There's one side, there's the other and there's the truth." What we get here is the one that mostly avoids the story altogether. — Gallucci

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