After appearances on numerous other artists’ albums and a great 2018 EP, Shawn Stockman, one of the members of legendary R&B group Boyz II Men, finally gives fans a solo album with the Foreword album for The SoNo Recording Group. Boyz II Men were already the most prominent R&B group in the world when Shawn released his solo single back in 1995 entitled “Visions of a Sunset” from the soundtrack of Mr. Holland’s Opus. I can remember being in eighth grade and having musical debates on the school bus on if Shawn was going to leave the group. Surprisingly, Shawn stayed loyal to the group, although he did record a much sought after and an unreleased solo album in the late nineties.
All five tracks (“Been Too Long,” “Goin,” “Shawn Na Na,” “Feelin Lil Som’n,” and “Don’t Spare My Heart”) from Stockman’s 2018 Shawn EP make an appearance on this album. So I don’t want to focus on those, as all of the songs were good. “Been Too Long” and “Shawn Na Na” are still both better than anything some other R&B singers have done in the last ten years. Instead, I’d rather focus on the newer material on Foreword.
Shawn opens up the album with “Come Wit Me,” a grown man ballad about taking your lady away from the stresses of life. The song is a callback to Boyz II Men’s work with production duo Tim & Bob during the II era. Shawn continues to pay homage to his Boyz II Men days with the album’s lead single “All I Do.” A classy love song that lets us know not to lose the friendship aspect of a relationship, which hit home for me.
No R&B album is complete without a slow jam, and Shawn delivers the goods on “Secrets” and “Left Right.” “Secrets” serves as the main course to the appetizer that was the legendary Boyz II Men song “50 Candles”. While “Left Right” uses a sound effect of clicking high heels to paint a picture of intimacy while your lady keeps her heels on. Unlike slow jams on the radio today, Stockman’s smooth falsetto never allows either song to venture into corny territory.
Stockman also finds time to provide the listener with some inspiration with the closing songs “Me” & “Breathin.” The former song uses an analogy of social media facades to promote self-esteem, while “Breathin” will let listeners know never to give up.
Next to Wanya, Shawn is arguably the most recognizable voice in Boyz II Men. Throughout the eleven song solo debut, Shawn reminds us just how strong of a singer he is. Instead of taking the “trying to sound modern” route that other R&B singers in his age bracket have taken, Shawn moves Foreword by staying true to his sound.
Album Highlights – “Shawn Na Na,” “Me,” Secrets, “Come With Me”
Final Grade A –