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Category Archive for 'R&B'

Billy Swan: Country Funk II: 1967-1974

“Country funk isn’t a real genre, except retrospectively, being one of those kinds of sounds you can’t really explain but you sure know it when you hear it….Yeah, it’s country, but it’s extra greasy, with pronounced backbeats, and it’s, well, funky somehow. You know it when you hear it….Music is all about cross-pollination. Country and [...]

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Joe: Bridges

“Joe is engaging from beginning to end without sounding as if he’s trying particularly hard….Overall, this is more finely detailed than the majority of adult contemporary R&B, and there’s a little more rhythmic bite through some deft dancefloor-aimed material….It all adds up to one of the singer, songwriter, and producer’s best albums.” –All Music Guide [...]

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Jennifer Lopez: A.K.A.

“[T]his record attempts to push J-Lo further into modern dance, by having her duet with T.I., Pitbull, and Rick Ross, not to mention Iggy Azalea….A bit more of A.K.A. is devoted to this cacophonic attack than usual… and while that’s a heavy indication of how Lopez wants to rebrand herself for 2014, the sound also [...]

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Aloe Blacc: Lift Your Spirit

“Retro soulman Aloe Blacc seems to have his sights set on the big time. After co-writing and lending his vocal to EDM producer Avicii’s 2013 hit Wake Me Up, Blacc’s third solo album sits firmly in poppy, ready-to-chart R&B territory….Blacc’s gravelly, expressive voice sounds terrific throughout, his trills and melodies indebted to Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers.” –The [...]

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Kelis: Food

“Food sports a cover that doesn’t seem nearly bright or colorful enough to reflect its sound — an eclectic and modern-sounding synthesis of classic pop and rhythm & blues with a lot of friskiness, some funk, and even a little twang.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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Michael Jackson: Xscape

“Timbaland and Reid evoke the Michael Jackson we all love and miss, finding songs that are worthy and giving them arrangements that are simultaneously nostalgic and modern. It’s a difficult trick to pull off but they largely succeed, so Xscape is a worthy and memorable coda to Jackson’s career.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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“From the start, Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed has specialized in soul like they used to make back in the good old days….Reed remains the same sharp, skillful soulman, one whose good taste and craft are hard to resist.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog Listen Now

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Ledisi: The Truth

“Squarely R&B albums dominated by upbeat, clean, and energetic material seemed like a forgotten art until late 2013 and early 2014….Ledisi continued the upswing with The Truth, her fifth Verve album….Succinct, consistent, vibrant, and all Ledisi all the time — there are no guest appearances — this is one of the singer and songwriter’s best [...]

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“Like Goodfellas and Boogie Nights before it, American Hustle‘s music celebrates the epic feel of ’70s pop, rock, and disco and uses it to give its story extra heft. David O. Russell’s tale of con men, Feds, and the mob has a lighter touch than either of those two movies, however, and this is reflected [...]

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Pharrell Williams: G I R L

“Compared to his albums with N.E.R.D. and In My Mind, this is easily Pharrell’s second most enjoyable album, just behind the original version of In Search Of… from 2001. It’s fun, frivolous, and low on excess.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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Ruben Studdard: Unconditional Love

“This is a pleasingly straightforward set, dominated by covers, that plays to Studdard’s strength as a mature, romantic balladeer….An enjoyable, comfortable release from the singer, Unconditional Love is quite possibly his best work yet.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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“Usually, a best-of compilation features songs performed by its subject, but as one of America’s most prolific and successful songwriters, Burt Bacharach is able to have an entire two-disc set come out featuring his songs and only appear on it once… showing the versatility and talent that have made Bacharach a pop treasure.” –All Music [...]

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TLC: 20

“[T]his set is a decent introduction to one of the biggest pop groups of the ’90s. Released a week ahead of the film’s premiere, it features all nine of the group’s Hot 100 Top Ten singles….The group made three of the best ’90s pop-R&B albums, and 2002′s 3D was no embarrassment.” –All Music Guide Check [...]

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Jhené Aiko: Sail Out

“Having already made a big impression in 2013 with appearances on singles from Big Sean (‘Beware’) and Drake (‘From Time’), breathy R&B vocalist Jhené Aiko fleshes out her character on Sail Out, a relaxed debut EP that suggests that this girl is on permanent vacation. That’s not a negative, but a positive, as the singer [...]

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“Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings grew into one of the most rock-solid conglomerates of classic soul revivalism, making it look easy as they turned in increasingly exciting albums….These ten songs sound almost designed to be played on repeat, and keep with the always colorful and ecstatically fun sound audiences have come to expect from one [...]

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Sly And The Family Stone: Higher!

“These are grace notes to the band’s enormous legacy, a legacy that is clearly on display throughout Higher!, whether it’s heard on exuberant hits that are pop staples to this day, rhythms that were heavily sampled during the golden age of hip-hop, or a vibrant blurring of boundaries that still sounds visionary. It’s that depth [...]

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Claudia Lennear: Phew!

“Claudia Lennear, who came to fame as a member of the singing and dancing Ikettes, has a unique voice that combines strength and fragility. She can wail and shout with the best of them, but there’s a certain vulnerability that always shines through (that incongruity describes her countenance, as well, which projects joy and sorrow [...]

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“The John Legend-curated soundtrack for director Steve McQueen’s big screen rendering of Solomon Northup’s autobiography 12 Years a Slave features 16 tracks, including two selections (‘Washington’ and ‘Solomon’) from composer Hans Zimmer’s evocative score. Operating under the ‘music from and inspired by’ adage, the 14 remaining cuts explore themes of suffering, redemption, and freedom through [...]

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“The 58-track Never My Love: The Anthology… appeals slightly more to fanatics than it does newcomers….There’s a lot of familiar ground, all of it representative, but many selections differ from the album counterparts….Hopefully an enterprising label has the resources to endure the licensing nightmares required to release a compilation that showcases Hathaway’s work for artists [...]

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R. Kelly: Black Panties

“Occasional resemblances to Drake and the-Dream are as blatant as the Isley Brothers and Michael Jackson exercises of Write Me Back. The similarities are so obvious that it’s tough to discern if Kelly is acknowledging his younger followers, aiming to beat them at their game, or both. Perhaps he’s just a little short on new [...]

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