The Lady Killer
Audacious, sly, witty, the music of Cee Lo Green is immensely entertaining, beautifully produced and delivered with such aplomb that I marvel that Green hasn’t attained superstar status long before this release. His summit began as a member of the hip-hop band Goodie Mob, and gained momentum as half the duo Gnarls Barkley. The Lady Killer should help him reach his personal apex. The man is a pop music savant.
Cee Lo Green, aka Thomas Callaway, counts among his heroes Freddy Mercury, Iggy Pop, Prince, and James Brown, artists renowned for their theatricality. He sets the stage by opening with The Lady Killer, a spoken introduction that breaks into an over-the-top James Bond-ish theme. That’s your cue to prepare for fun. “Bright Lights Bigger City” follows, resplendent with bombastic disco production. Horns, strings, and big beats swirl around Green’s soaring vocals. Next up is the hit single, the profanity laced, “F**k You.” Lest you think the language is gratuitous, anyone who’s been screwed over by love will tell you sometimes you just need to let it rip. There’s no denying the pop prowess of this song. Rather than bleeping it – which would be ridiculous considering how often the “bad” words appear, Green and his label compromise by offering a clean version for radio (and on disc – just look for the alternate version) retitled “Forget You.” Trust me, this is a sing-along song. Just be careful about where you are before you break out into song.
Green offers a couple of sexy soul songs in the vein of Barry White but instead of deep baritone Green’s vocals are sweet and lift into falsetto range. “Love Gun,” a duet with Lauren Bennet, features a sample of the theme from the television show “77 Sunset Strip” which lends a noire edge to the piece. A surprising turn on the album is Green’s cover of Band of Horses’ song “No One’s Gonna Love You.” He brings drama and passion to the love ballad.
Cee Lo Green reveals a love of many genres on The Lady Killer. With so many competing elements the album could have been an album without an identity. Not so; Green’s production finds the common denominators in sounds as divergent as Prince inspired guitar, dance beats, film themes, or alternative rock songs. At the center of each are Green’s powerful and distinctive vocals. He is one of the best vocalist in music today. He is also an inventive producer and talented songwriter who writes combustible pop music. The Lady Killer is a cruise control album – pop it in, let it roll, and leave the driving to Mr. Cee Lo Green.