REVIEW: CeeLo Green – CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway

I have been holding on to all my CeeLo stock with dear life. I thought I would never have to sell my CeeLo stock. I knew I would have had to take the rough with the smooth, but I had grown to expect that in recent years. Even as his music turned overly shmaltzy and he became a judge in the USA version of The Voice (oh the horror…), I still believed.

How can I put this lightly? At this stage of his career, CeeLo is a penny stock and I am selling low. CeeLo should have seen this coming and retired early.

Initially as a member of the Atlanta hip hop scene of the early 90s with Goodie Mob, CeeLo Green was the perfect growth stock. His voice wasn’t fully formed yet, but his high-pitched verses formed the perfect antithesis from Khujo and Big Gipp’s slow, deep, raspy lyrics.

He was a blue-chip stock by the time he teamed up with Danger Mouse to form Gnarls Barkley. Both Gnarls Barkley albums, along with his first couple of solo efforts were playful, expressive, gender-bending efforts that focused on CeeLo’s killer soul vocals to craft a bunch of catchy and stupendously produced pop gems.

This latest endeavour on the other hand, boringly called CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway is the least soulful soul album I have listened to in a while. I am so disappointed by the lack of creativity and variation, the flat production, boring instrumentation and CeeLo’s lackadaisical vocal performance that I do not think it necessary to even bother reviewing any of the tracks individually. No hang on… the last track of the album, “The Way”, is actually ok. A 3 minute old-school R’n’B song with classical guitar fills, CeeLo’s voice rising (note: not soaring… rising) for the ‘Find my way if it takes forever, Find my way where I belong…’ chorus and a production that is reminiscent of Danger Mouse’s antics. Still… it does not compel me to return to it any time soon.

CeeLo Green was one of my favourite artists. I jumped at the opportunity to review his latest album. I shall refrain from doing so again. I would rather avoid ruining my image of someone that’s given me so many fun moments over the years.

Words by Constantine Courtis

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