It goes without saying that Gnarls Barkley vocalist Cee-Lo Green knows how to keep things interesting, based on that group alone. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that Green’s new solo album, “Lady Killer,” is not a run-of-the-mill soul album.
Aside from Green’s vocals, the album is about as musically Motown as any album out there. Green is backed by a near-orchestra, as was the case in much of ‘70s soul music. String arrangements, saxophones and accompanying vocals add to the mood. Again, it’s Green who separates the old from the new.
Green’s voice would have made him a soul star during its heyday, but his mind is rooted in the present. His mindset is obvious in the first single off the album, the hit “F— You!” The title explains the attitude aimed at a former crush. The hook, which features the title repeated several times, wouldn’t be a hit if it was postured as a hip-hop song. The background vocals, echoing humorous lines like “ain’t that some s—,” take the obscene lyrics and transplant them in the ‘70s.
Green is less obscene during the rest of the album, and his humor is less direct, but the musician still jests. The “Lady Killer” theme that opens and closes the record plays off a James Bond theme, featuring Green discussing his status as a “lady killer” followed by a dramatic movie-theme arrangement. Green adds subtle humor within the lyrics, such as his line, “I want you to generally and sincerely want me too” in the song “I Want You.”
Green rounds off the album with a fun cover of Band of Horse’s “No One’s Gonna Love You,” one of the few songs that rides off the album’s soul train tracks.
Green said that on his last album, he was “the soul machine,” but he is far from a robot. He’s a new breed.