CeeLo Green has seen his stock fall considerably since his 2010 mega-hit album, “The Lady Killer.” Excluding a Christmas album in 2012 that was largely covers, “Heart Blanche” is Green’s first solo effort in five years. While the album does deliver on the promised soul sound, “Heart Blanche” lacks focus when it comes to songwriting.
“Heart Blanche” is largely a soul record, and when it sticks to this sound the album comes to life. Green is aided by hit producer Mark Ronson on “Mother May I.” The funky song covers Green’s childhood and his desire to leave his mother. The song has a slower feel to it, and Green’s soulful voice brings the song to life. Another hit is the dance song “Tonight,” which feels like a throwback to the ’80s. Synthesizers mesh well with Green’s loud and bellowing vocals. These tracks do more than rely on Green’s personality and voice — the songs go further in their production to achieve exciting heights.
The album spends too much time simply naming people rather than developing a story about what these people mean to Green. “Robin Williams” is supposed to be a touching tribute but comes off as a bit of a mess. The track is a salute to many late comedians and celebrities, including Phil Hartman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Pryor and the eponymous Robin Williams. The song is slow and dull, and it fails to capture the energy that Green says he was inspired by. It unfortunately comes off as a depressing list of dead comedians rather than a plea for positive living. “Est. 1980’S” fares better, but it’s still nothing more than Green naming off artists he liked from the ’80s. It’s lazy songwriting, and the rest of the record fails to say anything significant.
“Heart Blanche” is an inconsistent record. It does not maintain the high energy promised by “Tonight,” but Green is still a very soulful artist. Much of the record rides on his personality when it should reflect it.