From Montell "This is How We Do It" Jordan to the Sugababes of the UK, fall has seen quite a few R&B releases. So without ado, we present the Mid-Fall R&B Spectacular.
One of the articles teased on the cover of this month’s Vibe magazine reads thusly: “R&B Goes Soft: John Legend, Ne-Yo and Lloyd Try to Get It Up.” And even though they were decent-enough, releases by the three gentlemen in the article didn’t have much that would revolutionize modern pop radio.
Now, if by “goes soft,” they mean “has gotten better, if you’re willing to look past your local Top 40 hip-hop/R&B station,” I’d agree. If you think 2008 hasn’t been a good year for R&B, then you haven’t heard releases by Solange Knowles, Divine Brown, Raphael Saadiq, Erykah Badu and Duffy.
So without further ado, we bring you the Mid-Fall R&B Spectacular:
Montell Jordan, "Let It Rain": Alright, this is an open letter to Montell: It’s not your fault that you’ll forever be judged by the guilty-pleasure bundle of awesome that is “This Is How We Do It.” Let It Rain is a mostly uptempo, groove-based record. It takes kind of a syrupy, early-R. Kelly turn during the back half, but the strings and whistles of “Left Alone” and Philly soul of “Me and U,” as well as the closer, “How We Roll” keep things bouncing along nicely. Listen to samples at Amazon.com.
Sugababes, "Catfights & Spotlights": The Sugababes are apparently the UK’s best-selling female act, having sold more than 12 million albums worldwide. "Catfights & Spotlights" is a good, if scattered, record that jumps from big-beat horns (“Girls”) to faux go-go (“You On a Good Day”) to Kylie Minogue-ish techno-pop. They even take a huge bite of the Jackson 5 on “No Can Do,” but it’s all fun.
Leona Lewis, "Best Kept Secret": This album sounds like it’s been spinning in clubs over in Japan for some time now. Several versions of the same songs appear over the import disc’s 14 tracks, but the punched-up raver versions are definitely more interesting than Simon Cowell’s flat-line R&B production on her U.S. debut.
Other R&B albums, coming out today:
- John Legend, "Evolver"
- Pink, "Funhouse"
- Lady GaGa, "The Fame"