Avant, "Avant" (Capitol Records)
When Avant made his debut in 2000 with the hits "Separated" and "My First Love" featuring Keke Wyatt, the Cleveland native often drew comparisons to R. Kelly because they had similar styles of crooning.
Yet with three gold and one platinum album to his credit, Avant has transformed into a singer with his own unique identity, though like Kelly, lovemaking remains central to his message.
His new self-titled CD contains a few melodic gems mixed with a couple of so-so bump-and-grind ballads.
On his first single, "When It Hurts," Avant speaks to his lover about their relationship, wondering if it would crumble or flourish under tough circumstances as he sings, "Let's change people's definition of love."
"Out of Character" is Avant's naughty attempt to persuade his lady friend to invite another woman for a night of pleasure between the three. He shines on female-friendly track "Perfect Gentlemen" featuring rapper T.I.'s protege and labelmate Alfamega and the party starter "Involve Yourself."
There are some stumbles (like "Break Ya Back" and "Attention," featuring Snoop Dogg), but the album isn't dragged down too much, thanks to strong songs like the mid-tempo tracks "Y.O.U." and "Sailing."
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: On "Sailing," a remake of Christopher Cross' 1980 Grammy-winning song, Avant's smooth vocals blend well with the track's vibe.