Trey Songz-Ready Review

Looks like it’s time to dust off the brain, and get stuck into a review.

In an environment full of meaningless, formulaic and homogeneous R&B, there are one or two artists who still try to stick true to what the genre is supposed to be all about.

Step forward Trey Songz. Already two albums deep, Trey’s phenomenal natural gift is back on show with his third effort, Ready.

The number of AutoTuned tracks released recently whereby artists seem intent on masking their natural ability in favour of going for a radio-friendly sound is worrying. It’s not a problem when the artists can’t sing very well in the first place, but when they can, it’s just a waste.

Thankfully, Trey avoids this pitfall entirely on this album, and produces his finest vocal performances to date.

The album is cohesive, and superbly produced-this doesn’t necessarily mean all of the beats are outstanding. What it does produce is the kind of tracks that emphasise and work perfectly with Trey’s vocals. It is however one of the lost arts of albums that shines through here: Ready‘s sequencing. The tracks are laid out deliberately, and all tie into the tracks around them perfectly. It’s creates a fluent, flowing effect that makes listening to the album as a whole a far more enjoyable experience.

Right from the off, Trey states his intentions with the aptly-titled Panty Droppin’. Trey doesn’t hold back on his lyrics,  and seems to enjoy dishing out his ‘come-ons’. This track flows perfectly into Neighbors Know My Name, both in terms of the actual music and the lyrical content. My opinions on this track can be found here, and are only enhanced by being preceded by such an intro. Neighbors is now definitely cemented as one of the R&B tracks of the year.

I Invented Sex
isn’t quite as outstanding as some of the other tracks on Ready, but it maintains the fluency of the album, is a very easy track to listen to, and is frankly the kind of brash statement that makes Trey so enjoyable. It’s a little more uptempo than the previous two tracks, and brings some early bounce to the album. Drake features on this one, and he could have done a lot better with this verse. Whilst good, this track certainly isn’t on the level of their other collabo on this album, Successful, which is frankly outstanding.

I Need A Girl was the lead single from this album, and a great choice. I’m still not tired of this track, despite repeating it exhaustively since it dropped back in March. Trey’s vocals are as sharp as they could be, especially on his background vocals/adlibs, which really enhance the track. The production is nice on this too, and one of the better beats on the album. Compared to the fairly relaxed nature of the track preceding it, I Need A Girl comes lyrically packed with a searching emotion that Trey does vocal justice to.

Thematically, One Love follows I Need A Girl perfectly. I originally dropped this track here, and a few weeks on it’s still in my rotation. The production is just as impressive as the track before it, but in an entirely different way: The use of guitars in this create a very intense emotional backdrop for Trey to work with. The track is somewhat serenading and incredibly heartfelt, and at the same time remains big and powerful. Much like the above track, it feels like one of Trey’s more personal songs, and he sings it with real passion.

Does He Do It is a bit of a subject switch, but a welcome one. Sticking on the same kick for too long threatens boredom, and this is hence a good move. This is a midtempo track that is very catchy and in a similar fashion to Invented Sex, it’s an easy track to listen to. It almost acts as a tempo transition into the next track, Say Aah. Say Aah was also detailed here, and grows on me by each play. It offers the kind of variety that you need in an album, and is a very enjoyable track.

LOL features Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy, and is a track I just can’t get into. I can see the motivation behind it, and he’s gone for a bit of genre variety, but this just isn’t my thing. I do find it fairly funny though and if that was the intention then I guess it worked. Solace is found in the knowledge that it’s the only weak link on an otherwise outstanding album.

Another directional switch, and we get Ready To Make Luv. This is another great example of the sequencing: the ‘club’ tracks are coupled together, almost like a ‘phase’, and suddenly we get a short interlude to ease us back. It’s almost frightening how this short interlude is better than a lot of R&B tracks on shelves right now.

The interlude blends into Jupiter Love, which fully returns Trey to the slower material. The topic is once again the bedroom, but he keeps it fresh as he has done throughout the album. This is one of the slower tracks on the album, and much like Maxwell’s album, will probably be one of the key reasons that global sexual activity increases.

Be Where You Are
is another track that leaked earlier this year, and one I was hoping would make the album. The transitions from the slow, harmonic verses into the uptempo choruses are the outstanding feature of this track, and Trey adjusts his vocals superbly to the tempo shifts.

Everything slows down once more, and we get the introspective honesty of Successful. You should all know this track by now, and if you don’t, check out the video which enhances the track immeasurably. The track itself is awesome though, and I’m glad they created this new version. The production is crucial in this, and sets a perfect backdrop for two nice Drake verses, and an emotional one from Trey.

The next track steps up the tempo, and somehow steps up the quality: Black Roses is one of the best tracks this year, in any genre. Trey creates a brilliant metaphor, with the concept of black roses representing a broken relationship, and hence it’s one of his strongest lyrical efforts to date. Tie this into the fantastic production, and you have an absolutely phenomenal track on your hands. The use of live drums is key here, as it gives a very organic feel to contrast against the dominant electronic melody. The strongest track on the album in my opinion.

Love Lost certainly doesn’t disappoint, especially given the track it has to follow. The Human Nature sampled-production is very enjoyable, and is probably just as well-produced as the above track.  Trey gives us some variety in his delivery here too, and slows down for the chorus. A lyrical highlight in this is the beginning of the second verse, with the 90′s music/Aerosmith reference. It’s a neat little lyric, and sums up the emotion of the track well. It’s another example of great sequencing too as Trey delivers a very desperate, questioning performance to follow Black Roses.

Hollalude is another enjoyable interlude, and flows seamlessly into Holla If Ya Need Me. The penultimate track keeps the sequence running, and has Trey being honest and outright. It’s a nice progress in the sequence, and in terms of the album concept, a great example of reflection after a break-up. The heightened emotions of Black Roses and Love Lost are relaxed as a result, and the lyrics take an unselfish twist.

The album closes with Yo Side Of The Bed, adding another realisation to keep this concept alive. It’s a slow jam that Trey does a great job on, and is a direct progression from the previous track. Yo Side pulls Trey back onto the emotional rollercoaster: The lyrics have bittersweet recollections, and symbolise the idea of missing someone really well.

Phew. To conclude, it’s fair to say that this is easily one of the albums of the year. The lyrical concepts in the tracks themselves are enjoyable (Neighbors, Black Roses and Yo Side in particular) and the concept of the album as an entirety is superb.

The sequencing really creates a story, and takes you along for the ride with Trey perfectly. The second half of the album is where this concept really becomes focused, but this is a concept within itself: The lack of focus, the shifts from love to the club scene in the first half are the precise reasons that the events of the album’s second half come to fruition.

It’s an intelligent album, it’s a well-produced album, and it’s fantastically performed by Trey. This is without question the R&B album of the year, and without question a shining light in a genre starved of creativity, natural talent and a figurehead artist to really be proud of.

It’s a statement of intention that whilst everyone is relying on technology to get to that position, Trey’s going to outdo them all with real talent.

Trey Songz: Take your position at the top.

(Buy Ready. Seriously)

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