[HOT TRACK]An R&B Inspiration Returns

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[HOT TRACK]An R&B Inspiration Returns

"I saw Brian McKnight finish recording 'One Last Cry' in 10 minutes with just three takes," said Korean pop star Park Jin-young. "His voice was really marvelous, and from then on, my biggest inspiration has come from him." Park is not the only one who feels the same way about this American rhythm and blues singer. For a great many Korean singers these days, Brian McKnight, 32, is the foremost name in R&B singing, songwriting and producing.

McKnight is now releasing a new album and is scheduled to make his second visit to Korea in mid-September.

His new album, "Superhero," is being released worldwide Tuesday. With that title, McKnight is not talking about Batman or even about the great singers who most influenced him. Rather, by "superhero," he is referring to all the regular people in the world who do their jobs every day, but go unrecognized - people like firefighters, police officers and parents.

In the new release, McKnight sounds more mature and better than ever. Until now, his first album back in 1992 had best displayed his many talents. His fourth album, "Back at One and More," released last year, was his most successful commercially, reaching No. 2 in the U.S. pop charts and staying there for an impressive eight weeks. Artistically, however, it was uninspired and unsophisticated.

McKnight's new album, though, is full of great songs that clearly show why he has been ranked in quality along with Stevie Wonder and Boyz II Men. Of the 15 songs on the new CD, 13 range from solid to great. "Love of My Life," with a groovy rhythm accompanying McKnight's dreamy voice, is powerful and melodious. "Get Over You" is especially good, reminiscent of his old hit "One Last Cry" with its harmonious vocals and strings. Justin Timberlake of the teen group 'NSync also makes an appearance. McKnight produced 'NSync's last release, "Celebrity," so Timberlake returns the favor on "My Kind of Girl," the exciting fourth track.

Only two tracks stick out as disappointments. Unfortunately, the worst track is the title one, "Superhero"; its awkward electronic sound has little to offer besides McKnight's voice. "Everything" is also an unambitious and cliche-filled R&B track.

These two tracks aside, "Superhero" is a winner. If you are an R&B fan, you'll regret if you don't add this CD to your collection.

by Chun Su-jin

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