In today’s music climate it seems as though songwriters and producers behind the scenes are stepping into the limelight at a rate never before seen. Continuing this trend of moving from studio to stage is Ryan Leslie. Leslie, known for crafting R&B gems for his protégé Cassie (“Me & You”, “Long Way to Go”) enters the R&B scene with his self-titled debut, Ryan Leslie.
Leslie’s debut is very much a producer’s record; it displays his musical prowess at the expense of his voice. The sonic landscape crafted by Leslie is the real standout rather than his whispering falsetto. The ’80s influenced synth-based funk – Leslie owes a heavy debt to Prince – displayed is amazing. But Leslie’s mastery comes at a price in that the production often makes Leslie’s vocals an afterthought. However, fans can take solace in knowing that this is the only weakness of the album. The album is paced quite nicely throughout and has a definite cohesion, making it a rarity in today’s market dominated by singles. “Diamond Girl” and “Just Right” are examples of the 1980s bounce that define Leslie as a producer. Leslie’s debut is a definite standout in today’s R&B landscape. However, don’t expect Leslie to amaze with his voice.
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars