Miguel is one of those R&B singers that you just know will be around for a while. Having released his fourth studio project War & Leisure back in December, I finally had a chance to go back and listen to it for the third installment of Soulful Sunday. My knowledge of Miguel’s catalog isn’t deep but his hits have been killer and man can the dude sing. War & Leisure mixes in some very different tracks that were interesting, to say the least.
The man can sing. Plain and simple. It can’t be denied. His voice just fits so well with the genre. It has its aspects of vulnerability mixed with these strong high and low notes. “Pineapple Skies” shows off these abilities. It just feels right; it feels like true R&B. His hit track “Skywalker” with Travis Scott sounds smooth to the ears. Coupled with a very funky beat, he manipulates his singing limits to have these equally funky vocals. However, the reason why it feels like Miguel will have this long-term career in R&B is the song “Told You So”. He does such a great job going for an old-school vibe with its very similar sounds to classic Prince songs. Especially with all the Oohs, Aahs, and Mmhmms. Rick Ross and J. Cole are really solid pairings for features but I just wish we got more out of Travis Scott and Kali Uchis.
With the talent he brings through the vocals, I felt that the production team thought there didn’t need to be as much emphasis with the beats. Sure some are strong, like “City of Angels” with its rough electric sound and “Skywalker” with such a vibey drum kit, however, others just feel like they are lacking or plain. It is here where I notice differences between War & Leisure and the other R&B albums I have reviewed. Jorja Smith and Garren both used fantastic beats that paired nicely with their vocals. Miguel does on a few songs, but many others just felt like they were missing.
This aspect of the project was actually fairly solid. Transitions were smooth and the album just felt really flowy. Even the skips stayed on target with the tone being set. However, a few songs seemed rushed. The beat on “Caramelo Duro” felt generally louder than the rest of the album and overpowered the vocals. I also felt that the ad-libs on “Pineapple Skies” just didn’t fit with the general vibe of the project. Don’t get me wrong…I think every good R&B song needs a few yells, screams, and other exclamations. However, it felt Miguel was trying to mix R&B with ad-libs that would fit more with Migos.
“Criminal”, “Skywalker”, “Banana Clip”, and “Come Through And Chill”
I felt that the hits outweighed the deep cuts on this album. It is vibey and flowy but I can’t see myself going back and listening to many of the songs that I felt were skips. Not that they weren’t good, more that they weren’t special. They didn’t stand out. War & Leisure gets a:
It was a slightly above average album with solid singles. I’m still waiting for that one Miguel album that makes me go “wow”