The-Dream, Love Vs Money
A genre-altering work with big ideas, a big heart, and lots of internal conflict
Terius Nash is an auteur who treats his R&B like a filmmaker — drawing from personal wars while shooting in CinemaScope, with an eye to big-top set pieces and gorgeous canvasses. He's like John Ford — just replace the cowboys with epic sex sessions. His second album, Love vs. Money is his Stagecoach, a genre-altering work with big ideas, a big heart, and lots of internal conflict. It makes sense; Nash was an accomplished songwriter and producer before stepping out from behind the curtain, but his fame skyrocketed when his first hit, 2007's "Shawty Is a 10," took off. This album is a treatise on what happens when money gets in the way of what existed between two people before. It's a gorgeous, swooping thing, largely co-produced with Nash's co-conspirator, Tricky Stewart; they treat the album like a forum for suites, with each song dovetailing into the next, paying little mind to commercial implications. "Fancy," about a girl with taste too big for her britches, runs nearly seven minutes long, and floats into a fantasia-like breakdown before melting away into "Right Side Of My Brain." Nash isn't a technically gifted singer; his limited, babydoll voice lacks range, but it's enormously expressive. On "Sweat It Out," a predictably lascivious bedroom ballad, he proves that that voice, triple-tracked and soaring, can hang with any lothario in the game; it just needs a technological nudge. By the time he arrives at the album's closet, "Kelly's 12 Play," an homage to R. Kelly, Nash is bigger than idolatry. Still, it's always nice to hear a director reveal the shots he's stolen from his heroes.