Virginian singer mixes brazen sex chatter with revealing insights on album five.
Natalie Shaw 2012
Trey Songz likes sex. He likes to embody its every sensation in his music by feeling each beat; he’s so close to the music that it pulsates through his vocal, frenzied. This has been clear since his debut, so by this fifth album it’s less of a revelatory position, more the hammering home of an established point.
But Trey’s references to sex are rather more engaging than your average. As an artist operating largely outside of the tabloids, his fans are more interested in how his relationships affect his psyche rather than who, exactly, he’s sleeping with.
That said, Trey does go into no little detail regarding his preferences and desires – the result somewhat akin to a sex tape. Fans of old will have become used to these blush-inducing lines some time ago – but what can newcomers expect from Trey, operating in a field of other, perhaps more interesting, sex fantasists like Anthony Hamilton and R Kelly?
Playin’ Hard leaves the deepest impression from this throng of tracks, with Trey whimpering: “F***in’ all these broads / I’m disgusted with my damn self.” It’s the smallest of reveals shorn of context, but represents a considerable compromise from this artist. It’s a reward, too, appearing amidst so much braggadocio and utterances of untainted infatuation.
It’s not until the ninth track, Pretty Girls Lie, that Trey reveals a deeper side to his songwriting and, concurrently, his own personality. A humbler tone pervades, be it through guilt (Bad Decisions), remorse (Without a Woman), or regret (Fumble). His sex chat is expendable, but Trey’s doubts remain – although while his sincerity is commendable, there’s a point at which obsessions reach their endpoints.
No mix of club bangers, emotive slow jams, big hook-laden pop choruses and rockist dalliances can disguise his limitations, but as Songz begins to push into more interesting territory there’s a teasing feeling he’s got a better album in him yet. Ultimately though, this one is a step up, its maker beginning to lean towards representing the sentiments of the men he stands for, developing a voice currently missing in RnB.