March 31, 2003 12:00 PM

Brian McKnight (Motown)

Critic’s Choice

Brian McKnight’s eighth disc doesn’t get off to a promising start. The first cut, “All Night Long,” is a shamelessly trend-conscious hip-hop number (featuring a guest rap by Nelly) that sounds an awful lot like B2K’s recent chart-topping hit, the kiddie anthem “Bump, Bump, Bump.” A couple of other missteps aside, though, the rest of this album doesn’t disappoint, as McKnight consistently delivers the kind of sophisticated, melody-driven R & B that suits his supple tenor. Several of the tracks (most of which were entirely written and produced by McKnight) are such strong compositions that you’ll swear they’re remakes because they just don’t write ’em like this anymore. McKnight, nimbly slipping in and out of falsetto, also conjures up ’70s-era Marvin Gaye on smooth and sensual slow jams such as “Good Enough,” which features guest vocals by fellow soul men Joe, Carl Thomas, Tyrese and Tank.

BOTTOM LINE: Take this U Turn

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