For the First Time (Album Version)
Label: G.O.O.D. Music/Columbia
This may be one of John Legend's most subtle affairs. On the surface, it's nothing more than an hour of love songs. But the arrangements are packed with emotional intensity, from the half-stepping drums and distorted vocals of "Made to Love" and "Tomorrow" to his reprisals of Bobby Caldwell's "Open Your Eyes" (the Dilla/Common version) and Anita Baker's "Angel." With co-executive producers Kanye West and Dave Tozer, Love in the Future isn't as thematically ambitious as Legend's prior albums, but it's nice to hear him refocus on his strength as one of the best neo-soul singers.