by KAITLYN DO
With the release of his fifth studio album Darkness and Light Dec. 2, John Legend projects a mature persona with mellow undertones and somber vocals about his love for his new family.
Opening with the impassioned strains of “I Know Better,” Darkness and Light is Legend’s first album since 2013 when he released Love in the Future, whose bright energy contrasts with the mood of his new creation. It reveals a change in Legend’s demeanor, resulting in a new sound for the 37-year-old artist.
Darkness and Light includes a handful of featured artists, such as Miguel in “Overload” and Brittany Howard in the title track. Howard’s soulful vocals complement Legend’s emotions through harmonization in the chorus and in her own verse after the first chorus.
Chance the Rapper is featured as well, with his own verse in “Penthouse Floor.” Though the song does contain graphic language, it adds to the swanky baseline and classy overtone with lyrics “They float above the city lights/ Forget the truth inhale the lies.”
Underneath the overall catchy beat of the album, Legend also shares a little bit about himself in his lyrics. Some messages in songs are more evident than others, like in “Love Me Now,” the first song of the album to reach the Billboard Hot 100 at number 55. Legend talks about his relationship with his wife in lyrics “If you ain’t mine I’ll be torn apart” but he also says “Even when we try so hard/ For that perfect kind of love, it could all fall apart.”
“Temporarily Painless” is also a song about love, but may confuse listeners about what the message of the album is, especially after listening to “Love Me Now.” In the song, Legend says, “And even though it’s dangerous/ It’s temporarily painless/ I’m falling for a stranger, stranger.” Legend also dedicated the song “Right By You (For Luna)” to his daughter, where he wonders what she will grow up to be like, since he wrote the song when his wife was still pregnant. Though his sincere message about being her father forever was sweet, “Right By You (For Luna)” blended with most of the songs on his album due to little differentiation in style.
Though Legend said he drew inspiration from his wife and new daughter when writing this album, it takes listeners on a journey of different types of love to be experienced in life, not just in a loving family.
Legend’s album was released by GOOD Music and Columbia Records. The album pricing varies from $9 to $20 and is also available on Spotify.