Confessions – Usher – 2004
Claimed Sales: 20m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: Apple Music/CD
It’s a surprise even to me that I had never listened to Usher’s career defining album Confessions, especially given that I was a huge fan of the albums that followed. It stands alone in the 00s as a huge selling RnB release, where its leanings towards both Hip Hop and Pop are heard across just about every moment. The likes of Beyoncé, Nelly and Rihanna later in the decade never managed to have a one off album campaign as successful as this and one listen of the 4 #1 hits that appear here is enough to understand why. Yeah, Burn, Confessions part II and My Boo each sound distinctly like Usher, but each take a brilliantly different approach to the honesty that is the key to the album’s appeal. The undeniably danceable Yeah sets up Usher as a player, but even here the chorus lyrics of ‘I got so caught up I forgot she told me, her and my girl they used to be the best of homies’ are surprisingly confessional and set the tone here. It’s no secret that this isn’t the confessions of Usher himself, writer and main collaborator Jermaine Dupri is said to have pulled from his own personal life for most tracks on the album, though this didn’t stop Usher from gaining a reputation for cheating himself. The album is at its best early on, the transition to Part II of the title track where he talks ’bout that chick on part one I told y’all I was creepin’ with, said she’s three months pregnant and she’s keepin’ it’ feels like a conversation you shouldn’t be listening in on. Burn follows suit, giving an ultimatum of sorts all the while Usher’s silky smooth vocals make the listener think he might still have just one thing on his mind. Tracks like Truth Hurts and Simple Things attempt this later on in the record, but none match up to the tremendous work early on. The likes of Caught Up and stand out Bad Girl keep the club ready hooks coming, but it’s the slow jams that make up the most part of Confessions. Once these become a run of typical sex fuelled jams the effect of the album starts to fall apart. A song titled That’s What It’s Made For was never going to be as subtle was it? As a career moment Confessions is full of huge songs, tracks that defined the era for so many across the world. As an album? It’s not really the confessional concept record it claims to be.
Will I listen again?: Probably not.
Best Track: The back to back of Confessions Part II and Burn is a one two punch of honest RnB jams, but I’ve opted for the latter simply for the moment where Usher says ‘fifty-leven days’.