CeeLo Green’s Heart Blanche isn’t so lovely

The soul singer’s comeback album offers little hope

The Spectrum

Album: Heart Blanche

Artist: CeeLo Green

Label: Warner Music Group/Atlantic Records

Release: November 6

Grade: C-

While traditionally, CeeLo Green can be counted on by listeners for his soulful pop ballads, Heart Blanche leaves a different impression.

Green returns after a five-year hiatus from his last studio album The Lady Killer, which featured his biggest hit to date, “Forget You.”

There are no songs as dominant as “Forget You” on his newest album, but Green takes his shot anyways, trying to emulate that song’s mainstream appeal, specifically through modern-disco and EDM tracks.

On “Working Class Heroes,” Green melodizes over upbeat dance production with the assistance of a vocoder to encourage listeners to go to “work.”

He tries for an even more cheerful vibe on the very next track, “Tonight”.

Beginning as an inspirational orchestral-based song, it swiftly moves into what can best be described as background music to an ’80s instructional exercise video. The latter part of the track adds to this catastrophe by including an uncalled-for dubstep-like drop and drums.

The message of Green’s album is very distorted and unclear, which is shocking for someone who has been in the business for 20-plus years.

Heart Blanche’s themes range from anywhere to how much Green misses Dungeon Family members to the joy he received from late comedians like Robin Williams and John Belushi.

Beyond the awkwardness of some of Green’s subject matter, he does do a small portion of the album justice with his signature echoing vocals, optimistic lyrics about love, and production that sounds reminiscent of Gnarls Barkley – Green and producer Danger Mouse’s musical project from the late-’00s.

While songs like “Better Late Than Never” and “Thorns” are always a treat to hear considering Green’s expansive vocal range and delightful tones, they could be so much more memorable and innovative considering he has had five years to work on new material – not counting Green’s 2012 Christmas record, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment.

Green’s non-artistic persona is known to blend with his musical one – his bubbly, social and energetic personality shines though in each and every one of his artistic projects.

However, a joyful of a personality Green may have, he has failed to amuse in the most important of categories: musicianship.

Benjamin Blanchet is a contributing arts writer. Arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.