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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 02/15/2011

Album review: Ginuwine, "Elgin"

By Allison Stewart

ginuwineVeteran balladeer Ginuwine fails to make much of an impact.

Early in his career, he was a likable crooner who toggled between slow jams and the millennial version of futuristic hip-hop-soul. But these days, there's just not much call for Ginuwine's brand of boudoir-riffic R&B.

It's not entirely his fault: "Elgin" (its title is a nod to Ginuwine's real name, Elgin Baylor Lumpkin) is a solid if slightly anonymous disc that makes plain the problems facing veteran balladeers. Ginuwine got older (he turned 40 in October), got married and gradually began to emphasize the crooner side of his persona, just as electro-centric R&B began to gain traction.

And now he's stuck, his limber, velvet ribbon of a voice forced to resort to making unctuous Diane Warren ballads seem sincere and interesting and mostly not succeeding ("How Does Your Heart Forget" a forgettable ballad with synthy space noises, tries and fails to split the difference), while Ne-Yo has all the fun.


"Elgin" is fine when it's good (like on the busy, lurching jam "Batteries"), but better when it's bad: "Kidnapped" is a modest banger about a couple who try to role-play their way out of a relationship rut (for Ginuwine, this is an ongoing theme) by playing kidnapper and kidnappee ("I'll dress up like a robber and wear all black/Nobody's gonna find out where I hid you at").

Meant to be romantic but more like a weirdly detailed episode of "Criminal Minds" ("Never gonna let you go/I don't care how much they pay me"), it's creepy, wrong and the best thing on an album otherwise filled with lover-man boilerplate.

Recommended tracks: "Kidnapped," "Batteries"

By Allison Stewart  | February 15, 2011; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags:  Ginuwine  
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Next: Album review: PJ Harvey, "Let England Shake"

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