Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.

music Home > Record Reviews

Sound Tracks

Jagged Edge: Jagged Edge

Jagged Edge: Jagged Edge

Label:Sony Urban/Columbia
Release Date:2006
Genre:R & B

By Jess Harvell | Posted 5/17/2006

R&B styles come and go with the seasons, but no one will ever go broke singing huge, weepy ballads about love gone wrong. Atlanta’s Jagged Edge can do a convincing dance track but is at its best when the four members sound on the verge of rupturing vital organs pleading with the one that walked away. “Walked Outta Heaven” was 2003’s most overwrought single; you’d almost feel embarrassed for how earnestly brokenhearted Jagged Edge came off if you hadn’t felt that way yourself at some point.

Jagged Edge is sadly more dance tracks than ballads, but the ballads are wonderfully gloopy. John Legend guests on “Season’s Change,” a rather calculated move to give the group its own “Ordinary People.” It works, because “Ordinary People’s” mix of trite sentiment and vocal bombast is made for Jagged Edge’s prodigious pipes and complete lack of subtlety. (Unless it’s possible to misread a song title like “Ass Hypnotic.”) After 10 years, Jagged Edge has fiercely staked out its territory in modern R&B, and it works that tiny patch hard.

The Isley Brothers have covered far more stylistic ground than the baby-faced youngsters in Jagged Edge, who could be their grandkids—their with a career that spans 50 years at this point. But ever since they found a champion in their disciple R. Kelly at the turn of the millennium, the Isleys, now whittled down to just Ernie and Ronald, have eased into a comfortable career as sixtysomething lotharios. Against all odds, their recent albums are among the best of their career.

Baby Makin’ Music only features one track written by Kelly, but as if to compensate Ron and Ernie have assembled a 21st-century soul superteam, including Jermaine Dupri, Tim and Bob, and Bryan Michael-Cox. The songs lack Kelly’s offhand knack for unique phrasing—both musical and lyrical—and arranging, and at times the album can feel like the world’s longest quiet-storm track. But with a title like Baby Makin’ Music, terms like “functional” and “mood music” aren’t dirty words. Young buck R&B superstars like Ne-Yo should be taking notes, or at least investing in a good retirement plan.

Comments powered by Disqus
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter