Avant | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Avant 

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Avant is R. Kelly minus the megalomania, the sensitive-thug contradictions, and the courtroom melodrama. That leaves just a voice--and though Avant's has grit in it, his smooth cadences are all effortless Isleyisms, lithely gliding over unobtrusive hi-hat skips and muted guitar moans. Kelly's music is now too slathered in subtext to be good for nooky purposes, but Avant's fourth album, Director (Geffen), is perfect for the job. It peaks when he's desperate--on "4 Minutes" he rushes to his soon-to-be-ex's place, where a U-Haul's filling up fast--and dips during the cameos, when Lloyd Banks or Lil Wayne start jabbering in your honey's ear. But it mostly floats pleasantly in between: on "So Many Ways" Avant promises "a trip to the moon"--nothing gets a lady hotter than space travel!--but sweetly tweaks the cliche with "Then we'll shine on the earth / I'll show the world what you're worth." It's that sort of touch that allows him to easily outclass his competition on the charts--Ne-Yo, Donell Jones, Jamie Foxx--not to mention the creaky ol' Isleys themselves. Mon 7/10, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $20 in advance, $22.50 at the door, 18+.

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