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  • Usher is back with another album, but like his last effort Raymond V. Raymond, released only weeks ago, it’s another uneven effort from an artist talented enough to do better.

    The new album, Versus, is a nine-song project that will be available as a single disc or part of a deluxe, rereleased version of Raymond V. Raymond.

    But “Versus” isn’t all new material. It has two songs you’ve already heard — his current hit, “There Goes My Baby,” which was on Raymond V. Raymond, and the remix to “Somebody to Love,” which features protege Justin Bieber and is on Bieber’s album.

    So, with only seven new tracks, it’s more like an EP.

    Songs like “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” featuring Pitbull, will get you moving on the dance floor, but that has more to do with the standard club beat than Usher, who makes little impact on this song.

    “Hot Tottie” is another so-so track, despite Jay-Z’s guest appearance. Even the king of rap delivers a surprisingly uninspired verse; maybe he’s had one too many cameos of late.

    Usher shines when he’s able to display his sterling voice, plus his signature sensuality and swagger.

    On the album’s best song, “Lay You Down,” he seduces with every note, every moan.

    The uptempo “Lingerie” sounds like it’s circa the 5-year-old “Confessions,” but given the excellence of that album, that’s actually a good thing.

    And “Love ‘Em All” and “Get in My Car” feature Usher at his playboy best.

    If we had more of these kind of songs, this would be a tight, must-get song collection; as is, you’re better off cherry-picking and creating your own, even shorter Usher EP.

    Any points Usher loses for being crass, he gets back from the bombastic groove on “Get in My Car,” where he croons, “There’s too many girls in here to waste my time on you, what you gonna do?”

    Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.