After a few years, I decided to give this album another whirl, thanks to YouTube. Even with a more open mind and digesting a wider array of music since my last encounter with this trite sonic material, I still think it's very bland. At best, this is inoffensive music, at worst, this will put you on the verge of screaming in pain.
In a way, I liken Kenny G's “Breathless” to James Cameron's Avatar. Both are largely inoffensive media that puts all effort into style over substance and have raked in far more cash than they deserved. I still think it's crazy that this album has sold over 12 million copies. Anyway, on to my review.
Kenny G's style of jazz can be easily classified as either “smooth jazz” or “easy listening.” In essence, the formula for most of the songs on this album are softly-played saxophone with minimal to non-existent percussion and airy keyboards in the background. Two of the tracks on this album like “By the Time the Night is Over” and “Even if My Heart Would Break” feature guest vocalists in an attempt to mix things up, but they do much more harm than good.
FORGETTABILITY/LACK OF SOUL
One of the ultimate problems with this album is that it's a very forgettable one, and that so many of the songs I hear on it feel interchangeable. Also, I guess because of the fact that this is supposed to be easy-listening, I hardly felt any creativity or soul poured in any of the songs on here.
I guess if I were to choose a song on here that I would say that I came close to liking, that would probably be “Alone.” Since I think of all the tracks on here, this one shows the most effort and even a little creativity by diversifying the instrumental compositions a little, mainly with the inclusion of tastefully-done acoustic guitar in the beginning.
The rest of the songs, however, are either very boring or worse, cringe-inducing.
I'm not joking, I've had trouble distinguishing songs like “The Joy of Life,” “Forever in Love,” and “End of the Night” since there's really nothing interesting in these songs for me to latch on to. I sometimes think for music that's supposed to be “relaxing,” I don't even think it succeeds at doing that. Sometimes, Kenny G will come up with a melody that can make you unwind, but then he'll throw in a sax solo that will break the mood, and you'll come out annoyed.
The two soul-pop songs, “By the Time the Night is Over” and “Even if My Heart Would Break,” really got under my skin, but not in a good way at all. The former features Peabo Bryson with backing vocals by Michael Bolton, Diane Warren, and Andy Goldmark. Their vocal contributions are some of the lamest, most trite I've ever heard in music. I'm not joking that it's they type of music you'd hear during an afternoon soap opera, and it doesn't help that the lyrics themselves are dime-a-dozen relating to romantic cheese (the theme itself isn't what makes it generic and cheesy, but rather the execution). The latter features Aaron Neville, and his contributions don't fare much (if any) better than Peabo's. Thematically and aesthetically, it's not much different from “By the Time the Night is Over,” so I can't really comment much further on it, except that it's soulless, annoying music.
Much like Avatar, the effort in this album seems to have went to the production values. Everything comes in crystal clear, even the backing instruments to Kenny G's sax, so I guess that's a plus.
Don't waste your time and money on this Kenny G record. If you want jazz that'll give you a myriad of emotions while giving you music with effort and soul put into it, check out these albums instead.
Miles Davis: B*tches Brew
Allan Holdsworth: Sand
John Coltrane: Blue Train
Herbie Hancock: Mr. Hand
Return to Forever: Where Have I Known You Before
Leave “Breathless” (and all other Kenny G albums) on the store shelves.
Finally, it should be noted that the album cover is begging to be desecrated with a Sharpie.
What did you think of this review?