R. Kelly proved to be one of the most influential male R&B vocalists of the '90s, and Avant certainly doesn't escape his influence on My Thoughts -- the singer's debut album and the first album to come out on basketball icon Magic Johnson's MCA-distributed Magic Johnson Music. Like Chicago native Kelly, Avant is from the Midwest; his home town is Cleveland, and his connection to the Windy City includes his Chicago-based producer Steve "Stone" Huff and his Chicago-based manager Eric Payton, who is among this CD's executive producers. Kelly's influence, in fact, is impossible to miss on My Thoughts, a competent, if uneven, effort that Huff produced. Much of the material is routine urban contemporary fare, but on the album's best tracks, you can hear Avant's potential. Arguably the CD's best offering, "My First Love" is a remake of a Rene & Angela ballad that features female vocalist Ketara Wyatt and boasts a delicious '70s-like string arrangement by Tom-Tom 2000. Also likable is the melancholy hit "Separated," the moody "This Time," and the candid "Let's Make a Deal," an Avant/Huff composition that finds the singer declaring that a relationship cannot be one-sided. If Avant's phrasing sometimes brings to mind Ronald Isley, it's no coincidence -- the Isley Brothers are a major influence on Kelly, who is Avant's primary influence. This isn't to say that My Thoughts is in a class with the Isley Brothers' work, or even Kelly's albums. My Thoughts isn't mind-blowing, but it's decent more often than not and lets us know that Avant has potential. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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