Ne-Yo burst onto the R&B scene in 2006 with his debut album, ‘In My Own Words’ which spawned hits such as ‘So Sick’, ‘When You’re Mad’, and ‘Sexy Love’. He has since etched his way into contemporary R&B lovers hearts dropping album after album of unforgettable love songs. Today, his first album in 3 years, ‘Non-Fiction’, was released online and in-stores and we had the chance to check it out before it hit iTunes.
As an artist evolves it can become increasingly difficult for them to modify their sound without losing touch with their core audience. While broadening his horizons by dabbling in the Pop and Electro-Pop worlds, Ne-Yo has seemingly struggled with this. Attempts to strike a balance between his Pop audience and his R&B audience can be heard throughout the album as he integrates pop songs such as ‘Time of Our Lives’ featuring Pitbull, ‘Who’s Taking You Home’, and ‘Coming With You’.
Overall, the album itself is solid and enjoyable but as a body of work, it is not as good as some of his previous albums including 2012’s ‘R.E.D.’. One of the most prominent themes of this album is the storytelling element which we have come to expect from a songwriter of Ne-Yo’s caliber. This mixed with 90’s R&B and Hip-Hop, and even House-influenced production make the album worth a listen. One drawback is the excessive number of features on this album; unusual for an album from Ne-Yo. Though the collaborations with T.I. on ‘One More’ and ScHoolboy Q on ‘Run’ actually add musically to ‘Non-Fiction’, some of the other features just seem unnecessary.
Standout tracks include: ‘Religious’, ‘One More’ f/T.I., ‘Come Over’ [a bonus track only available on the deluxe edition], ‘Run’ f/ScHoolboy Q, and ‘Congratulations’.