Trey Songz Mistakes Lust for Love on ‘Back Home’
Arts, Music, Review

Trey Songz Mistakes Lust for Love on ‘Back Home’

★★★☆☆

Quarantine, new Trey Songz music, and cuffing season on the way sounds like a dangerous combination, but the risk may be worth it. Caution is advised before listening to Songz’s latest album.

Back Home, Songz’s eighth studio album, was released on Friday. As expected with anything Trey Songz, it is dedicated to love, lust, and everything in between. His passion burns and permeates through each song on the album. In an interview with Apple Music, Songz lamented the fact that music today doesn’t teach about love anymore. 

“With this album, I wanted to bring the complexity of love,” Songz said.

Though in the Apple Music interview he cites “All This Love” from Back Home as the best love song that he has ever made, the other songs on the new album contradict the maturity he is trying to portray. Going back home usually brings a sense of clarity and new understanding. But on Back Home, it’s questionable how much Songz has really grown. 

Back Home is reminiscent of Songz’s 2014 album Trigga, full of explicit and implicit innuendos alike. In each track, he wears his heart on his sleeve and unapologetically pours his feelings out through vivid stories. But this time, Songz approaches love from a different angle. He almost comes across as misunderstood, not the player that he’s always claimed to be.

On one hand, Songz is fed up with these short-term entanglements. In “Two Ways,” first released as a single, Songz sings, “It goes two ways in love / Can’t be the one chasing us.” He feeds the sad love song with blues-inflected electric guitar and drums. Despite wanting to leave, Songz admits that he is crippled by his unrequited love and that he cannot be himself if he does not have his lover’s heart. This sort of painful internal conflict runs throughout the album.

In “Circles,” Songz blames his partner for causing most of the confusion and stagnancy in a relationship, but with songs like “Cats Got My Tongue,” “On Call,” “GLA,” and “Nobody’s Watchin,” Songz gives into his kryptonite: sexual intimacy. This leads Songz to wonder whether the relationship is based on love or just lust in “Sleepless Nights.” Songz seems to yearn for a life partner, but it is unlikely that those relationships can last on intimacy alone. It does not seem that he understands this, though, considering the overwhelming number of songs on the album focused purely on sex. For someone who claims to have done a lot of growing, Songz does not share what else he can offer a partner. 

In the Apple Music interview, Songz said that Back Home is supposed to return to a softer attitude that hip-hop and R&B music today lacks. He thinks it has strayed too far from love and deeper meaning, but Back Home barely makes a dent in countering that trend. “Rain,” “Tug of War” and “All This Love” are the most emotionally vulnerable songs Songz has ever made, and they make little to no mentions of physical intimacy. But these songs arrive in the latter half of the album, and by that time, Songz has already incriminated himself, and it is clear why he has trouble finding love. 

Poor Trey cannot seem to find a life partner who reciprocates his love. But a hint of enlightenment shines through toward the end of the album, when he finds the greatest love all through the birth of his son. The last song, “I Know a Love,” and closing interlude, “Noah Love,” are dedicated to his son. Back Home experiments with different types of love, but in light of the entire album, those ventures flop.  

Back Home is a well-crafted album, especially considering the story-oriented approach Songz takes. The only problem is that the supposedly new Songz—the one who has discovered what love really is—has minimal presence on the album. The listen is still worth it for Songz fans, but if you are still healing from a recent relationship, beware. 

Featured image courtesy of Atlantic Records

October 14, 2020
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