The first album from r&b singer-songwriter Ne-Yo is a solid debut effort. Ne-Yo is a good songwriter and appealing singer who makes magic when he hooks up with producers that bring out the best in his personal style. Norwegian team StarGate and Ron "Neff-U" Feemstar are behind the boards on the most memorable tracks here.
Ne-Yo and Neff-U
Ne-Yo, a songwriter who has been involved in plenty of hits by other artists, first attracted attention from r&b audiences as a solo artist with the bright, urgent "Stay," produced by Ron "Neff-U" Feemstar. The youthful producer is best known for his work with Eminem and 50 Cent. Here, he keeps hip hop audiences happy with a rap from Peedi Peedi, but its Ne-Yo's own sweetly soulful voice that is the star. "Sign Me Up," Neff-U's other production effort here, is a celebratory piece anchored in old school organ and horns.
Ne-Yo and Stargate
"So Sick," Ne-Yo's pop breakthrough, is part of the most distinctive work on this album. In collaboration with the Norwegian production team StarGate, "So Sick" glides by with a cool handclapping base and plucked harp strings. StarGate manage to pull Ne-Yo's vocals into an appealing, smooth r&b package that sheds today's ever-present hip hop atmosphere without descending into old-school conventions.
There are 3 more StarGate confections here, and 1 is truly a gem. "Time" details a relationship gone bad amid swirling piano and tasteful, sweeping orchestration. It is a sound that is truly distinctive in current pop music.
Skilled Words and Romantic Music
The remainder of Ne-Yo's In My Own Words does not stand out as effortlessly among the current crowd of r&b competitors, but all of the songs here are worth hearing. Ne-Yo is a skilled wordsmith who knows his way around the interactions between men and women. At the same time, much of this music serves admirably well as romantic musical backdrop when the words just aren't as important.