Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Urban, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

 
Music

6 - 1

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA


cover art

El DeBarge

Second Chance

(Interscope; US: 30 Nov 2010; UK: 30 Nov 2010)

Review [24.Feb.2011]

6


El DeBarge
Second Chance


Like his brother Chico did last year, El DeBarge made a triumphant return to record with Second Chance, his first album in 16 years. And he made a classy, introspective throwback R&B record that just sounds great. Themes of redemption predominate, most explicitly on the title track and the insistent, beautiful “How Can You Love Me”. But the best thing about Second Chance is listening to El’s gorgeous tenor, which sounds as clear and pure as it ever did.


 

 



cover art

Yahzarah

The Ballad of Purple St. James

(Foreign Exchange Music; US: 4 May 2010; UK: 4 May 2010)

5


Yahzarah
The Ballad of Purple St. James


Yahzarah is probably your favorite female R&B singer’s favorite female R&B singer. And that’s because this classically trained dynamo has range to spare and a virtuoso’s command of her instrument. Even when she’s letting loose on “Strike Up the Band” or going full bore on your heartstrings with the brilliant “Last To Leave”, Yahzarah knows exactly what she is doing. The Ballad of Purple St. James is a stylistically diverse album of many pleasures, designed to show off the many sides and tastes of Yahzarah. And yet, it does feel like an album—a true testament to her talent.


 

 



cover art

Sade

Soldier of Love

(Epic; US: 9 Feb 2010; UK: 8 Feb 2010)

Review [9.Feb.2010]

4


Sade
Soldier of Love


After a decade of waiting, Soldier of Love arrived and earned the distinction as the first must-have album of 2010. Not bad for a 25-year-old band that some probably thought wouldn’t make it in the new millennium marketplace. But nobody does smooth-as-butter R&B for adults better than Sade and people know that. The ten songs here are tinged with melancholy, appropriate since so much of the album is about healing a broken heart. Good then that the strongest song, album closer “The Safest Place”, leaves the listener hopeful that love really will return.


 

 



cover art

Erykah Badu

New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)

(Motown; US: 30 Mar 2010; UK: 29 Mar 2010)

3


Erykah Badu
New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)


New Amerykah Part One was Badu’s political manifesto. It was heavy, precise, hard, and in-your-face. On Part Two, Badu’s exploring themes of love and relationships in that inimitable Badu way. It is warm, inviting, soft, and comforting. Ever since “Otherside of the Game”, love for Badu has always been grounded in life as it is, in the matter-of-fact knowledge that we can be horrible to one another and yet still love each other deeply. Case in point: one of the song titles is “Fall in Love (Your Funeral)”. On the brilliant ten-and-a-half minute long closer, “Out My Mind, Just in Time”, she straightforwardly confesses to how deep her love is, calling herself “a recovering undercover over-lover.” When so much of popular songwriting about love is steeped in generic sentiment, give thanks for Erykah Badu who eschews all of that for raw emotion and real talk.


 

 



cover art

Cee-Lo

The Lady Killer

(Elektra; US: 9 Nov 2010; UK: 8 Nov 2010)

cover art

Cee-Lo

Stray Bullets

(Self-Released; US: 5 Jun 2010; UK: 5 Jun 2010)

2


Cee-Lo
The Lady Killer and Stray Bullets


Cee-Lo’s brilliant third album, The Lady Killer, and Stray Bullets, the free mixtape that preceded it this year, are a package deal. They each provide Cee-Lo with the opportunity to explore, in his uniquely weird and fascinating way, romantic warfare. Contrary to its title, Bullets’ aim is clear and direct—it’s the less polite, less congenial sister to Killer (just listen to the marvelously insane “I’ll Kill Her” with Lonan the Destroyer or the hilarious “Cho Cha the Cat” with the B-52s). But Killer holds its own. Its scale is greater—check out the monstrous “Bright Lights Bigger City”, for instance—and the theme is handled more subtly in the lyrics, though do not mistake it for softness. I mean, you heard “F*ck You”, right?


 

 



cover art

Bilal

Airtight’s Revenge

(Plug Research; US: 14 Sep 2010; UK: 6 Sep 2010)

1


Bilal
Airtight’s Revenge


Bilal returned after nearly a decade to release what I consider to be the best album of the year, genre be damned. Airtight’s Revenge is the work of a virtuoso who sincerely wants to find new ways to convey old things, but not for the sake of being different. You never get the sense that Bilal is just showing off or being purposefully weird. “Cake and Eat It Too” sounds tortured because that’s what the song is about. Ditto for “Restart”, which feels like it’s constantly starting and stopping because the song is about one man’s inertia. In a year in which many an idiosyncratic artist has broken through to the mainstream, Bilal bested them all with this assured, thrilling album.


Tyler Lewis is a Washington, D.C.-based writer. You can read his blog at: http://tigger500.typepad.com or follow him on Twitter (@tlewisisdope)


Related Articles
13 Aug 2014
Trey Songz's latest is successful not because it takes a fresh approach or carries an important message, but rather because it so effortlessly epitomizes the modern R&B genre as it currently exists.
22 May 2014
Sade the band and the singer are responsible for classy, timeless music. Shame this collection is what feels like a pointless re-packaging
By Elias Leight and Colin McGuire
11 Dec 2013
The best R&B albums of 2013 feature long-time stalwarts and compelling new voices.
28 Oct 2013
While most pop singers bounce from one marketable persona to another, Janelle Monáe stands her ground in this Afrofuturist vision she's been creating for about a decade. Other pop artists are tourists; she's building a city.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.