If you want to get to know Avant, don’t bother sneaking backstage at one of his concerts. Don’t wait for him to reply to your MySpace messages either. To get close to the man, all you need to do is this: 1) Buy his new album, 2) Load it into your CD or mp3 player, and 3) Listen as he speaks through a mix of ballads and mid-tempo love songs. It’s that simple. Avant’s self-titled Capitol Records debut is the follow-up to 2006’s Director. With almost every song written or co-written by Avant, listeners get an exclusive peak inside the mind of a consistent R&B artist; making Avant the perfect title for his newest release. Snoop Dogg makes a guest appearance while The Architects (Missy Elliott), Trackmasters (Tamia), Collipark (Soulja Boy) and Eric Dawkins and Antonio Dixon (Chris Brown), lend their talents to the production side of the album. So who exactly is Avant? For starters, he’s a business man. And he’s in the business of giving women the business. If you don’t understand what that means, “Break Ya Back,” “French Pedicure,” and “Out of Character” will bring you up to speed. Lyrically, they pale in comparison to the album’s other tracks. They’re your typical baby-making, bedroom shakers. Aside from the fact that “French Pedicure” provides an interesting take on the old “I’ll have your legs in the air …” line, the songs aren’t innovative. In terms of painting pictures with words, however, they’re top notch. Avant leaves nothing to the imagination as he explicitly sings about his needs and desires. On “Out of Character,” Avant sings: I want to experiment/ Take you places you’ve never been/ Let me introduce you to another woman/ Tonight you’re gonna get out of character. Wishful thinkers and couples in open relationships will love this song. The equally aroused, yet not as adventurous, listeners may find it difficult to relate to. Avant puts “Out of Character,” “Break Ya Back,” and “French Pedicure” over the hump by delivering on-point vocal performances. His talent as a singer is undeniable. These songs are mildly enjoyable because of that. When it’s time for Avant’s romantic side to play, he leaves his business attire at home. There’s nothing freaky about the emotional ups and downs of a relationship. He makes this clear in the album’s standout track, and lead single, “When It Hurts.” Life is great when you’re smiling, laughing and enjoying your significant other’s company. But what will you do when things fall apart? Avant sings: Baby girl we gotta face it/ There’ll be times that we let each other down/ And on the days that you ain’t feelin’ me/ Will you be able to stick around. These are strong words from a man who knows what the post-honeymoon phase is like. “When It Hurts” is arguably the most honest ballad to hit the radio in quite some time. It’s just as good as “4 Minutes” (Director, 2006) and appeals to fans who normally listen to other genres. “Material Things” and “Y.O.U.” are also excellent songs. The former is a mid-tempo jam that sounds bigger than life. The instrumentation compliments the lyrics nicely as the horns add drama and urgency to the song. “Y.O.U.” is an old school type of love song that showcases Avant’s vocal power. It would have been a good track to close the album with. Including a remake of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” at the end was unnecessary, but it too, is mildly enjoyable thanks to Avant’s performance. With the number of hits beating out the number of misses, Avant’s self-titled album will satisfy listeners who count on him to deliver quality music.