This album, led by the first single, "Touch My Body," came out April 8 on Island/Def Jam Records.
12. Shine, Estelle
Although her North American debut album isn't likely to rocket to the top of the charts once it's released in the U.S. on April 29, 2008, the album just might camp out on the charts for a long time as more and more people find out about this talented woman. Shine is definitely a fitting title, as Estelle truly shines here and shows off her versatility as a vocalist.
Even though Raheem doesn't have certified pop star status, he's got something just as, if not more, important: soul. And style. And sophistication. And on his second Jive Records album, which was released in the U.S. on Jan. 15, 2008, Raheem puts all three together and displays them in fine fashion. He might not top the charts, but Raheem DeVaughn is definitely one of R&B's brightest shining stars.
Though she's new to the mainstream, the quirky, highly-talented singer Janelle Monae has been putting out music for years. Her five-song Metropolis - Suite I: The Chase EP was originally released back in August 2007. But now that she's inked a deal with Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records label, the rare, hard-to-find album has been re-released with a new name and two additional songs.
Anthony David's major-label debut, released in the U.S. on June 24, 2008, is a good old-fashioned bluesy Soul album that once again gives credence to the theory that Atlanta is the current home for the most creative R&B and Soul music being made in America today. The album is a treasure trove of strong songwriting, live instrumentation and sparse production which proves that less really can actually be more.
Evolver, released in the U.S. on Oct. 28, 2008, is John Legend's third major-label album, and on it, he takes his music in a different direction than the one he's followed in the past. For the most part, Legend's piano - until now the instrument that's most exemplified his sound and style - has been put on the back burner, replaced by drum machines and synthesizers. Likewise, his smooth, soulful vocals now have more of a bright veneer.
Lay It Down, which was released in the U.S. on May 27, 2008, is a return to the vintage Al Green/Hi Records sound of the 1970s. Most of the time, its best when an old-school artist can occasionally reinvent themself (see: Neil Diamond, Carlos Santana, Tony Bennett), but in this case, classic is king.
18. Rockferry, Duffy
Duffy's debut album, which was released on March 3, 2008 in the U.K. and May 13, 2008 in the U.S., is a tribute to the vintage style of pop-soul of '60s Blue-Eyed Soul singers Dusty Springfield and Lulu, just as Amy Winehouse's Back to Black was a tribute to girl groups like the Shirelles and Supremes.
If retro is the new progressive, then Jamie Lidell is miles ahead when it comes to bringing the past to the present. On his third solo album, Jim, which came out in the U.S. on April 29, 2008, the British singer has nearly perfected the whole Blue-Eyed Soul thing.
On his third full-length album, Dwele continues making music for young, educated urbanites who enjoy the arts, poetry readings and maybe even a nice glass of brandy every now and then. Of all his albums to date, Sketches of a Man (released June 24, 2008 in the U.S.) is perhaps his most well-rounded.