On his third solo project, released in the U.S. on Nov. 9 2010, Cee-Lo makes the most of his increased name recognition. The Lady Killer is the most streamlined release of his career; Cee-Lo hasn't quite sold out and gone pop, but he has made an album full of simple, straightforward and mass marketable relationship songs.
On his latest release, Ron Isley manages to sing classic-sounding ballads, modern-sounding up-tempo jams and everything in between with an equal amount of skill and dexterity. Mr. I, released in the U.S. on Nov. 30, 2010, doesn't really break much new ground musically or lyrically, but it's a very smooth and enjoyable listen. The silky-smooth senior has still got skills.
Leela James is a woman who came along 25 years too late. If she released her third album, My Soul, in 1975 instead of 2010, there's no doubt that it would have been a bona fide hit and she'd be much more appreciated as a vocalist. My Soul is like Leela's voice: sometimes gritty, sometimes sweet, but always deeply satisfying, like good Southern cooking. And it also doesn't fit into today's cookie cutter world of generic R&B and pseudo-Soul music, which means that the album, even as great as it is, is probably going to go unnoticed by much of the music-loving public.
Good Things, released in the U.S. on Sept. 28 2010, is the type of topical, intelligent and entertaining album that the late, great Bill Withers might have made if he'd been born in the 1970s instead of 1930s.
Intimacy: Album III, which released in the U.S. on Aug. 17, 2010, definitely lives up to it's name: all nine songs on this hour-long release are deeply sensual tracks that will likely hit all the right notes for females the world over. In fact, instead of Intimacy, the album just as well could have been called "How to Seduce a Woman, Vol. 3" and still easily lived up to its title.
On his third studio album, neo-Soul singer Raheem DeVaughn continues to live up to the legacy that legendary artists like Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke established in the 1960s and '70s. As the title suggests, The Love & War MasterPeace (released in the U.S. on March 2, 2010) is an ambitious Soul album straddling the line between politics and entertainment. Raheem's attempt doesn't quite strike a perfect balance, it's still a welcome change from the large amount of empty and shallow urban music out there today.
Vocalist Will Downing has generally straddled the line between Jazz and R&B in his work, but his latest project, Lust, Love & Lies (An Audio Novel), released in the U.S. on Sept. 14, 2010, is a straight ahead, full-fledged R&B release, with touches of Jazz here and there. The result is a very nice mix of sensual mid-tempo tracks that fit together to tell a story. And Lust, Love & Lies isn't just a pretentious title: it's an accurate description.
Back to Me, which was released in the U.S. on Aug. 24, 2010, is a good, solid album that manages to properly harness Fantasia's formerly wild and raw voice.