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Ain't Nothin' Like Me

Joe

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Album Review

Can you think of many R&B artists who first appeared during the new jack swing era and continued to release good, up-to-date albums on a major label throughout the first decade of the 21st century? You probably cannot. If you can, Joe is likely near or at the top of that list. His sixth album — which went through a number of titles and projected release dates until it landed in April 2007 as Ain't Nothin' Like Me — is up to the standard of 1997's All That I Am and 2000's My Name Is Joe. Contemporary as ever, Joe seeks production and songwriting assistance from a number of ubiquitous heavyweights and up-and-comers, including the perpetually on-the-rise Tim & Bob (who first worked with Joe on 2000's "So Beautiful"), hot Norwegian team Stargate (Ne-Yo's "So Sick," Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable"), Sean Garrett, Bryan-Michael Cox, Johnta Austin, the Underdogs, and Cool & Dre. A handful of tracks aren't all that necessary, but if you were to trim the sequence down to ten or so, you'd have a 40-minute album that is not too far from faultless. The Tim & Bob, Stargate, and Sean Garrett productions complement each other well, especially within the album's opening four-song stretch. Beats dance and skip, supported by simple and roomy but effectively layered ornamentation — music box-like melodies, floating synthesizer accents — that is never laid on too thick. They're ideal for a nuanced vocalist like Joe, who can affect desire, pain, and devotion with the slightest of adjustments. From there, the quality level fluctuates, and there are too many ballads, but "Let's Just Do It" (another spacious, midtempo glider) and "Just Relax" (where Joe and Cool & Dre jack A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" and sidestep corniness) are two other standouts. While a very basic name, a lack of flashiness, and sizeable gaps of inactivity have only gotten in the way of his popularity, Joe has maintained relevant and reliable since he debuted.

Biography

Born: 05 July 1973 in Columbus, GA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Joe is an accomplished vocalist of smooth and sultry R&B productions with occasional hip-hop beats, and his extensive background in gospel music has allowed him to produce his albums as well as sing on them. A native of Georgia, Joe later moved to Opelika, Alabama; since he was the son of two preachers, he spent much time in church singing, playing guitar, and even directing the choir. Influenced early on by gospel stars like the Winans, Commissioned,...
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Ain't Nothin' Like Me, Joe
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