Don't be fooled by the title of John Legend's fourth solo record, as the music actually looks backward to sweeping romanticism and pop formalism. All of Legend's strengths are present: keen melodies, smooth vocal understatement, and artful arrangements. Essentially, the disc plays like a love letter to his fiancee, supermodel Chrissy Teigen, yet it resonates. Each song either extols the graces of a woman or endorses the endurance of relationships. On "All of Me," Legend earnestly sings, "love your curves and all your edges/ all your perfect imperfections." "You & I" is an ode to such single-minded devotion it would soften the most jaded heart. The rare misses include "Asylum," which speaks of being crazy in love, but is too genteel to convince. The singer-songwriter is an anomaly in today's R&B because he's not trying to rattle every bedpost and out-swag his peers. There are no blurred lines here — Legend wants to bring romance back to pop. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL "All of Me"
John Legend plays Citi Wang Theater Oct. 22.