Miguel – All I Want Is You | Album Review



Having written for the likes of Usher, Asher Roth, Mary J. Blige and Musiq Soulchild, Miguel – government name Miguel Jontel Pimentel – delivered his debut solo album late last year featuring production from Fisticuffs, Salaam Remi and Dre & Vidal.

The 25 year old singer/songwriter of African American and Mexican mixed descent quickly made his way up the musical ranks to the point where in 2010 he toured with Mary J. Blige, Usher, Jazmine Sullivan and Trey Songz. Citing James Brown, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury as inspirations, Miguel’s J. Cole-featuring album title track may have garnered the most attention for him to date – but today, the full LP goes under the spotlight…

The album opens with his second single, ‘Sure Thing‘; the song that got Miguel signed to his Jive deal and, as the story goes, nobody was supposed to hear – however Miguel’s manager submitted it Mark Pitts and was signed off the back of it. I like the way this one is written. The lyrics seem so obvious, about things that go together: “You’re the cigarette/ And I’m the smoker/ We raise a bet/ ’Cos you’re the Joker.” Built upon a percussive loop and dreamy synth parts, interspersed with guitar and strong backing vocals, this track takes the seemingly obvious lyric and gives it subtle backdrop. My side ear also notes that Miguel sounds quite a bit like Raphael Saadiq on this track.

The strong opening continues with the title track, ‘All I Want Is You’ – that track that shot Miguel to fame. Salaam Remi manages to bring his familiar in-your-face drums and strong motif to the table with his production, complemented by the ambient treatment of Miguel’s vocal and further greatness ensues with the track being sandwiched by memorable verses from J. Cole. The lyrics describe the regret that Miguel feels having parted company with his ex-lover; “I wonder sometimes/ I wonder if I/ Was wrong/ Tryin’ to do right by you got me here,” further accentuated by the tangible lament in his vocal performance.

What I like is that Miguel has played with a few different sounds and styles on this album. It’s obvious he has an eclectic taste in music and that comes through in the music.

‘Pay Me’ is an uptempo, club-targeted, R&B number. In essence it sounds like it quite possibly could have been an Usher song, from the way it is written and the vocal ad-libs. Although it’s not for me, it moves through a few different grooves and sounds very ‘current’ by R&B standards.

‘The Moon,’ on the other hand, is a better attempt at an uptempo number. It reminds me hugely of The Neptunes and Justin Timberlake collaborative works, owing to the harmonies, chord progression and backing vocal arrangement. This theory is a little more watertight with the inclusion of “Your body is a rollercoaster/ I want to ride,” a variation on the line in N.E.R.D’s hit song ‘She Wants To Move.’ The chorus is strong and well written, something apparent throughout the best parts of the album.

As you listen to the album, it becomes more and more clear that Miguel is hugely influenced by Prince. ‘Teach Me’ is like a typical Prince track in its drums, synth bass and pads. The lyrics also screams Prince; part sentimental, part sexual. I wasn’t enamoured by this song, as I felt he was trying too much to recreate a Prince song, not an easy feat and bordering on blasphemous. ‘Hero’ is perhaps what a Prince track would sound like in the modern day, however, it also didn’t rock my boat.

Where the Prince influence works in his favour is on ‘Girls Like You.’ It has a lovely digital vibe to it, with the drum production sounding Purple Yoda esque, however, not the regular sound jacking that people do when trying to ‘get that Prince sound.’ The lyrics contain great imagery, where Miguel talks of being lonely and how he has “No-one to play Connect Four with me/ Addict of War with me.”

‘Hard Way,’ produced once again by Salaam Remi, sounded too much like an attempt torecreate ‘All I Want Is You’ with bigger and more current production value, therefore I didn’t really warm to it. ‘My Piece’ also wasn’t a track that I particularly connected with for reasons unbeknownst to me.

Miguel’s eclecticism continues with the impressive ‘Quickie,’ an Island-inspired number with the vocals having all the slur and laziness typical of music genres from that part of the world. The title is self explanatory…

A sexually natured, well-written song, ‘Vixen’ is in my eyes a solid number. The melodies in the verses play effortlessly with rhythm and meter but are anchored by a strong chorus, whilst the drums sound open and big and lay the foundations for the beautiful chord progression, with the horns in chorus being a highlight.

It’s not very often that a standout track on album is an interlude. I remember Alicia Keys’ ‘Feeling U, Feeling Me’ and Dwele’s ‘A.N.G.E.L’ being of particular note in [not so] recent times. In Miguel’s case, the acappella ‘The Girl With The Tattoo (Enter.Lewd)’ stands, for me, above the rest of the album. With the sonic atmosphere of a Lewis Taylor track, owing to its backing vocals, shades of Robin Thicke in his falsetto and the sensuality of a Maxwell track, Miguel produces 1 minute and 42 seconds of beauty. Showing an aptitude for creating wonderful, progressive melody that moves into all the right places at the right time, effortlessly moving between shades of his voice that add colour and texture where required, it is most certainly a track that leaves your appetite whet for more and reaching for the rewind button.

All in all, Miguel provides us with a look at what is possibly a bright future for him. He is a strong writer of both chorus and lyrics, with the ability to back it up with a voice likely to evoke many more emotions in his second outing. I like that he has taken risks on this album, playing with sounds and styles and not just churning out what is hot right now. Granted it doesn’t all work – but when it does, it works exceedingly well… building anxious anticipation for his second album, which is due to be released later this year.

All I Want Is You is out now through Jive Records. Purchase via iTunes; Amazon.

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