Miguel comes in the latest flurry of R&B/Soul singers attempting to strike through the mainstream. To be honest with one another, with the exception of a few, the vast majority that are hurled at us are either Auto-Tune’d to so much death that we can’t even bare being in the same room as that music, or else the great stuff has faded away into obscurity. Maybe as a critic, I’m asking a lot from just one singer. But if you were just as tired as I was of being hurled with the same old bullshit overfed to us, maybe asking a lot from the talent you are presented with seems like a task in and of itself. Can All I Want Is You, his debut record quash those expectations and provide us with some good music?
The short answer: in some ways it does, and there are some ways it doesn’t. Kicking things off is “Sure Thing” and its beat for the most part sounds like something conjured for a Young Money hit, but once Miguel hits the track, it definitely provides balance, even though the lyrics are a little tired with all the analogies it tries to place.
Afterwards, there’s the Salaam Remi-produced title-track, with a feature by J. Cole, which is one of the highlights of the record. Rather than try to provide Miguel with something hot, Salaam works with his vocals, the measured boom-bap drums and slick guitars complementing Cole and Miguel perfectly. For the most part, All I Want Is You has songs that fall into these two classes; where you have stuff like “Sure Thing”, which is kind of an alright formula, but it’s not quite there in terms of the execution. In these instances, you have some songs that suffer from tired concepts but have great production, like the nicely dancehall-tinged elements in “Quickie”, which also tries to talk some seduction, but when it comes down to the chorus it falls far short. “Pay Me,” and “To The Moon”, suffers from sounding like Lady GaGa throwaways that are less on the subtleties and try to venture into the hit territory.
However, when you have a song like the title track, there are some tracks that fall into that class, and provide evidence of the capabilities of Miguel. When Miguel is backed with some decent production, and then provides enough of a lyrical context that fits within the feel of the beat, it becomes a win-win and shows off why a cat like him deserves his moment in the spotlight. Take for example, the stuttered drum-and-guitar staccato of “Girls Like You”, when Miguel tirades into the pros and cons of the opposite sex, and then you have the head-nodding antics and swoon-singing melodies existent in “Hard Way”, where he lays out lessons learned about heartbreak, and then you have “Vixen” which puts Miguel into a seductive mood, and definitely works well with the oft-kilter beat.
All in all, It’s not a bad first effort. Being harsh on R&B singers their first time out may be a tad on the unfair side; most don’t really unlock their true potentials or end up fading into obscurity once going into another new direction. If Miguel definitely sticks to what works and strays away from what doesn’t work on All I Want Is You, there’s definitely a chance that we might have a true talent on our hands. If the opposite occurs, then it wasn’t really meant to be. It’s a mixed bag on the first time out though, and All I Want Is You serves as a keen example of the mixed bag.