John Legend gives us his “Good Morning” face…
Recently, Parlour hit the studio to hear John Legend’s new as-yet-untitled album, slated for this fall. First reaction? The collection sounds nothing like him and Johnny is getting hornier as his catalog increases. From 808 drums to space age chords, this time the Ohio native is taking his audience closer to the urban solar system than the 1950’s renaissance he created on his last LP, Once Again. But don’t worry his first video should drop in early May so you’ll see what we mean. Nestled in New York’s Legacy Studios, Parlour sat down with the cuddly piano player to find out his top five artists, whether this album is aiming for MTV’s crowd and why his songs sound like he spent a few nights at the strip club. Got any ones, ya’ll?
Parlour: These tracks seem a little more pop than your usual…
Legend: The songs don’t sound like me. Once Again was mellower, this one’s production is a little more up tempo and more pop than the last one. In some ways, it’s more urban sounding than Once Again. Though I think the first album, Get Lifted, was blacker than second or third, this one is more commercial than the first two.
P: Were you trying to make a commercial record this time?
L: I was trying to make good songs and they came out this way. This is the mood I’m in right now. The mood of the last album was a romantically nostalgic and I feel like having more fun on this album.
P: Can you explain the sexy edge of “Good Morning?” Did you write that tune after a nice breakfast, so to speak?
L: I love “Good Morning.” I was writing with India Arie’s music director, Drew Ramsey, in Atlanta and he played a song called “Let’s Make Good Morning Love.” So I said, let’s change it around to say “Good Morning” so it wouldn’t be so obvious. It’s a good song for couples because anybody that sleeps with somebody knows that sometimes you wake up and you want to do it.
P: We hear those strip club 808 drums in there, what made you depart from your traditional live instrumentation?
L: If I would’ve used acoustic drums on “Good Morning,” it would’ve had a totally different sound. The horns and the keys are the same but we decided to change up the drums and it made all the difference. Just those production choices made it sound more contemporary, where as acoustic drums on that last record made it sound more vintage. Each album has been different thus far because I’m always trying to find new things to excite me. I want to continue that.
P: Right, so was hitting the strip club while recording in Atlanta one of the things that excited you?
L: I’ve outgrown strip clubs, I’m 29. I just feel like it’s a disappointment because you just leave. I’d rather grab something for real and not just get teased.
P: Well, to give our readers some context, if “Good Morning” did get some club play, would it be stage or champagne room-worthy?
P: Understood. Do you have a second single in mind?
L: It may be “It’s Over” with Kanye, written by Pharrell Williams or may be “Everybody Knows.” But we think we have at least six singles. Even with Get Lifted we released four singles, and then with “Once Again” we released six and we’ll probably do six this time.
P: OK, who are your top five artists?
L: Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Beatles. I’m tempted to say other people but they don’t have enough material because they’ve only had like one record. Like Jeff Buckley only released one, Grace, and I love it. Lauryn Hill only released one, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and I love it, I can listen to those anytime. But their body of work doesn’t compare to the likes of the great. I’ll say Lauryn with some emptimess in my heart because I want to hear more. But Aretha Franklin would probably out rank her anyway. I loved Aretha’s early 70’s songs like “Day Dreaming” and the whole Amazing Grace album.
Here’s the track listing + Parlour’s thoughts:
Green Light ft Andre 3000- sounds futuristic with tapping drums and John singing “give me the green light, give me just one night…I’m ready to go right now” and Andre hopes that “you’re more like Anita Baker than Robin Givens.” Anything with Dre makes us smile.
Satisfaction- producer will.i.am pops out the synthy chords and melodious chorus and John’s asking “can I get me some satisfaction?” over rising keys. Ehn…
Everybody Knows- got some stabbing drums, guitar strums, layered chorus that swells as Mr. Legend sings “I wish we gave it one more try.”
No Other Love ft Estelle- reggae beat, estelle = niceness
Cross The Line-producer will.i.am broke out the Three6 Mafia drums on this one. Ae you guys sure you didn’t hit the strip club John?
Good Morning- ok, John played this joint twice and wouldn’t let us talk or take notes. What we can say is that this jam is all about good morning loving. PARLOUR COSIGN.
Aim High- here we’re back to classic john, through acoustic instruments and surprisingly, The Neptunes produced it. we don’t think the duo made the Once Again credits so it’s good to see The Neptunes and John back together again.