Jack Freeman is attempting what many have tried but few have accomplished – he wants to define love – and he just may have come close.

I have no doubts that Jack Freeman‘s artistry is going to take him from being one of Houston’s best R&B/Soul artists will soon have the city qualifier removed and will just be one of the best, period. From the first show I visited on a whim after following him on Twitter randomly, to actually enjoying the show even though I attended all by myself, to now actually being a fan of his music, I was delighted that he trusted me with a sneak listen of his forthcoming album, Define Love. Whether or not you follow Freeman on social media, you’ve probably noticed the buzz around the album, heard his song “Right Here” on Majic 102.1, or seen one of Houston’s musical tastemakers – including super-producer Bryan-Michael Cox – posting about it. Usually this kind of preemptory buzz evokes an eyeroll from many, but y’all, it really is that good. Define Love, from beginning to end, reminds me of a romantic movie, where the protagonist, Freeman, travels through a relationship with a woman the viewer never fully gets to see, but he tries his best to describe her to us, and to decipher his own feelings about her. The catch, however, is that the woman is not a woman per se, but love, as a concept, and its true definition is inexpressible because, in the words of Corinne Bailey Rae, you know nothing about it, “unless it happens to you.”

To get a better idea of the songs on the album, I can only do my best to describe each of them, but you should really just go pre-order the album and cop a ticket to his September 1st show hosted by Bryan-Michael Cox and featuring DJ Skywalka, DJ RedSoda, and DJ Big Reeks.

Track One – Monster’s Ball

From the first guitar stroke, you realize this album is just…different. Monster’s Ball sounds like the intro to a cinematic experience, filled with Freeman’s forever unbuttoned button-down shirt, a hint of David Ruffin snatching the mic and jumping in the audience and choosing one swooning fan to sing to before she passes out, and lusty, confident begging. This picture starts with a sex scene in a smoky room.

Track Two – Talk About It

This track goes from David Ruffin to Carl Thomas, but doesn’t lose any of its swagger. The scene is still sweaty, but it’s less confident, less boastful. Clearly, the “woman,” the concept, of love has changed into some less guaranteed and more questionable.

Track Three – Perfect For Me

It’s often the truth that love means wanting the best for a person, even if that doesn’t involve you. Freeman admits his insecurity about getting what he’s always wanted and possibly setting his love life in a different direction in a red pill/blue pill moment by saying everything a woman does not want to hear – that she’s too good for him.  In this definition, Freeman makes the most selfish sacrifice.

Track Four – Pictures of You

Plot twist! This track is actually the antithesis of love. No, it’s not hate. It’s apathy.

Track Five – Lips

“Lips” is most likely my favorite song on the album because I get complimented on my lips often, so in my head it’s about me. (It’s definitely not about me at all). This song, though, defines love as adoration. Freeman is looking at this woman, this concept, as something he won’t fully understand, but intrigues him nonetheless.

Track Six – Right Here

By now, you’ve probably heard this song, so I won’t say much, but I will say that it’s a sweeter definition than the song before it, and probably one of the softer-hearted tracks on the album. It almost gave me Alabama Shakes or that-one-song by Chris Stapleton vibes.

Track Seven – Cold Blooded

Love is one of those things in life that ebbs and flows. This track is an ebb. Just when it’s all good, it isn’t. The definition of love here is something that one can never quite reach, and as hard as you try to understand it, once again, it’s alluded you.

Track Eight – Beautiful

You’ve probably heard this one, as well. This is the definition of love that everyone wants – not necessarily the fiery, passionate, gotta-have-you love. This is the comfortable, “I got somebody at home,” smile for no reason in the middle of the day, this person is a part of me love. This love is a fact, no longer a concept.

Track Nine – Pieces

The vibes change for the closing scene. There is an acoustic guitar and a tempo change. The smoke has cleared. Honestly, it’s the kind of love many of us are most used to – unrequited, simply because it’s the right person at the wrong time. It seems that, through all the definitions of love Freeman has come up with, there is still something incredibly mind-boggling and elusive about it. If anything, love is more about being open to it happening, and not about making it happen, hoping for it, and certainly not about finding an all-encompassing definition. As we hear in Freeman’s journey, love is a set of experiences that are concrete fact yet totally conceptual. It’s certain and questionable. It’s caring too much and it’s totally disengaging. Love, for all intents and purposes, really is the “thingy-est” thing there is.

Define Love drops August 24.

Photo: Grant Tucker