Released May 2008.
Usher, the man behind the biggest selling r&b album of the past decade, Confessions, has returned with the most mature album yet of his career. Here I Stand captures the current state of pop-leaning r&b in an 18-track opus without a weak track. More focus would have been possible in a slightly trimmed down collection, but that would be nitpicking. This will be remembered as one of the top pop and r&b albums of 2008.
Top Producers Lend Some of Their Best Work Yet
As is the case with most major r&b artists today, Here I Stand features a who's who of today's top production talents. Fortunately, names like Timbaland, Stargate, and will.i.am bring their A-game here. Timbaland expands on the moodiness of his massive pop remix "Apologize" with an appropriately pleading vocal from Usher on "Moving Mountains." Look for this cut near the top of the pop charts.
Stargate appear on 2 tracks here. They collaborate with Ne-Yo to give Usher the delicate "His Mistakes." Their trademark acoustic guitar sound gets a slightly exotic update on the pleasing "What Is a Man To Do." will.i.am is pleasingly restrained on "What's Your Name?" even delivering his own rap break that resists hogging the spotlight.
The Modesty of Usher as a Performer
Here I Stand is an album that demonstrates pleasing restraint throughout. Instead of being a performer likely to oversing or draw attention in a flamboyant fashion, Usher is a singer who is a catalyst for the development of a solid recording. He is unlikely to rank as one of the most technically impressive r&b singers today. Instead, he is simply one of the most successful at releasing solid recordings that will please a wide swath of contemporary pop and r&b fans. This is accessible music at its best.
Top Tracks on 'Here I Stand'
- "This Ain't Sex"
- "Moving Mountains"
- "What's a Man to Do"
- "Love In This Club, Part II"
Deserving of Top Sales Figures
If there is any album released so far in 2008 deserving of top sales figures, it is probably Here I Stand. This is pop and r&b of widespread mass appeal. Usher has grown out of a pre-occupation with sexual content into an adult artist concerned about the artistry of the song. Most of these songs would slide comfortably into radio playlists. Usher has returned, and he is more than welcome.