Black Rose

by: Tyrese

Seventeen years after his solo debut, and two years after his Top Five album with Tank and Ginuwine as TGT, Tyrese has come up with a surprisingly modest, ballad-rich collection seemingly devised with longevity in mind. The R&B evangelist called upon a number of past studio associates -- Brian "B.A.M." Alexander, the Underdogs, and Marcus Hodge among them -- along with the likes of Davion Farris, Warryn Campbell, and D.J. Rogers, Jr. While the album opens with some typically libidinous lines, they were written with devotion in mind, and the four songs that follow contain more humility than what can be heard in the whole of most contemporary albums in the genre. The fourth, "Shame," is one of a few career highlights here, though it just about towers over everything else as a knockout throwback ballad that pleads for forgiveness, fortified by the background vocals of Jennifer Hudson and Mika Lett. Two other highlights, "Don't Wanna Look Back" (featuring Chrisette Michele) and the exceptional "The Rest of Our Lives" (featuring Brandy) are first-rate duets, in part because one can sense that the vocalists are listening to each another, not merely swapping leads. The icing on the latter's wedding cake is a tender segment that recalls the end of Kool & the Gang's "Whisper Softly." Should this turn out to be Tyrese's last album, as the singer threatened prior to its release, it will finish his music career on a high note. ~ Andy Kellman

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