Hurricane

Studio Album by released in 2005

Hurricane review

Like a lot of artists of the past, some of the best music ever created was when they were in a time of desperation, heartbreak, or even self-reflection (i.e., Carole King's Tapestry, Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear, Phil Collins' Face Value, and Beck's Sea Change, Mary J. Blige's My Life). Eric Benet embodies these emotions and more on his latest disc Hurricane. It is probably the last word anyone wants to think about right now, but the artist formerly known as Mr. Halle Berry has indeed weathered a storm of his own, surviving a very public and possibly even humiliating divorce from the Hollywood beauty. But instead of stewing too much on bitter feelings, to his credit, Benet looks to the future, accepts the present, and reflects on love lost, personal growth and lessons learned. Stunningly sophisticated and orchestral, filled with string and horn sections, Hurricane is a deeply emotional and romantic album from one of the most distinctive and charismatic of contemporary R&B balladeers.

The tone is immediately set with the stripped-down, gospel-flavored opener Be Myself Again, with its message of inner renewal, and producer Hod David's acoustic-guitar accompaniment adding a very Bill Withers-esque vibe to the proceedings. From here, Benet seeks redemption (the lush My Prayer), reveals his vulnerable side (a serene Man Enough to Cry), and yearns for love (slow jam I Wanna Be Loved). Most impressive is the ethereal India, a song for the singer's daughter that tells of her inspiration amid dreamy pedal steel, deftly plucked acoustic guitar, and a muted Chris Botti trumpet solo. The arrival of Hurricane ushers in a new Benet. His first two releases were more on the lighter edge of neo-soul. Now, he's playing around with a new direction, slacking up on the soul and singing more often over frisky acoustic guitars for a modern, urban-folk sound. Be Myself Again, I Know and In the End are among several songs showcasing this turn. The plush The Last Time is another different direction altogether, as Benet experiments with an all-out, big-band sound.

Eric Benet's very public marriage and painful breakup with Halle Berry ended up overshadowing the Milwaukee native's skills as a talented, soulful singer-songwriter. For a while, it became unclear if Benet would ever return with a new album, but he's come back strong with Hurricane. After a six-year absence from recording, the album – following the gold, R&B Top 10 A Day In the Life – proves that it has been worth the wait. The lush, strings-piano-acoustic guitar driven arrangements are tailor made for Eric's gorgeous vocals, and he rises to the occasion beautifully delivering one stunning performance after another. For better or worse, emotional pain always brings out the best in an artist; and Hurricane is one more piece of testimony to that fact.