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New R&B Adds: Esperanza Spalding, Tweet

Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+ Evolution: Crossing the boundaries of jazz and R&B, Esperanza Spalding has released one of her best albums to date in Emily’s D+ Evolution. It is goes without saying the instrumental arrangements are top notch, but what really impressed me about this album is her vocals. Spalding’s sound has been characterized previously as being jazz, but on this album the hooks are coming clearly from an R&B tradition. On standout track “Unconditional Love”, Spalding goes full out R&B singing a love song that easily could have been written by Lianne La Havas or Corinne Bailey Rae. Lead single “Good Lava” is more difficult to classify with Spalding’s voice bending and shifting in ways that are reminiscent of early Björk. Emily’s D+ Evolution is at its core a jazz album, but like many contemporary artists Spalding is stretching genre definitions and resisting classification. KEN

RIYL: Lianna La Havas, Corinne Bailey Rae, Erykah Badu, Solange

Recommended Tracks: “Unconditional Love” (2), “Good Lava” (1), “Earth to Heaven” (4) “One” (5)

Tweet - CharleneTweet is Missy Elliott’s protégé from the early 2000s, who became known for her light voice and provocative lyrics, especially her early 2000s hit “Oops (Oh My)”. After the release of her second album, 2005’s It’s Me Again, Tweet took a hiatus from the music industry. Out of nowhere Tweet has resurfaced with Charlene an album that picks up where 2005’s R&B left off. This album is smooth straightforward R&B that provides few surprises, but cashes in on nostalgia for pure R&B. When it goes right the results are amazing with the best example being lead single “Magic”. When it fails this album is like nice wallpaper, never offending, but leads your mind to wander to other things you could listen to. Overall this is a solid album from Tweet and it is great to hear her voice again, butCharlene misses the chance to capatlize on the advancements of the R&B genre since she has been gone. KEN

RIYL: Aalyiah, Faith Evans, Teedra Moses

Recommended Tracks: “Magic” (2), “Won’t Hurt Me” (3), “The Hardest Thing” (9)