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Rob Murat
  Rob Murat  
  Recommended if you like:
- Eric Roberson
- Avant
- Mint Condition
 
Review
Rob Murat 'Rob Murat' [Quench]
 

Rob Murat’s self-entitled debut EP is simply some of the best R&B work to come around in a long while. Two things impress with this body of work, and that’s Rob’s smooth, gritty vocals and his songwriting ability. “Not the Average” not only tells us why he’s not the average brotha when it comes to love… it shows us that we’re in for a listening experience that is simply above the norm. He doesn’t beat the listener over the head with trite lyrics or predictable production. His songwriting style is so simple and candid that it borders on humorous. This is a fun album that gives us a chance to identify with this artist and a chance to heal past wounds in a lighthearted and soul-filled way. “Miracle” is a nice up-tempo track on which Murat reveals that he “…became a hater sick of seeing Will and Jada” during a period in which he laments that “…stupid cupid’s blessing everyone but me”. Devo Springsteen of John Legend fame helped out with the production on this track. John Legend and Murat have more than this producer in common as they were college classmates. “Beautiful Apology” has a haunting vocal arrangement and melody over which Murat’s voice soars. “I Know” is good old-fashioned soul that is reminiscent of Motown in its heyday. I can easily imagine The Temptations performing this piece. This EP is definitely worth a listen and only hints at the wonderful time we will have musically getting to know Mr. Rob Murat.

Mut Asheru [Just Soul]

Sol Train
  Sol Train  
  Recommended if you like:
- Bilal
- Hanthony Hamilton
- Raheem DeVaughn
 
Review
Randevyn 'Sol Train' [Sin. J Ent.]
 

I love albums that give us glimpses into the minds and lives of the artists. There is nothing superficial to Randevyn or his wonderful debut album “Sol Train”. This record is refreshing, honest and yes soulful as the title suggests. Randevyn recorded his debut album, “SolTrain”, which documented in part his life as an aspiring musician working a regular daily job in Atlanta. He has worked with artists ranging from India Arie to Floetry. Randevyn’s gruff baritone voice is perfectly bedded with his mature and candid songwriting style that blends well with this albums rich production which is thick with gospel, blues and jazz influences. At first I thought I was listening to Bilal but upon closer inspection I found that while Randevyn’s sound and vocal inflection is eerily similar to Bilal, his work is more structured and what I like to think of as multi-generational. Anyone can listen, no matter their age and/or background, and understand where this singer/songwriter is coming from. The track “DearFarah”, about a lost love that he can’t get out his mind, is R&B gold. My favorite track by far is “Y-O-Y” with a steady thumping beat and wonderful lyrics that are given a sense of urgency by Randevyn’s passionate vocal delivery. His vocals are strong throughout the entire album even on the tracks that did not really grab me, of which there were only two. The acoustic “Missin You”, which was produced by PJ Morten, showcases this artist’s ability to vocally lift a song to a superior level. Love is a prevalent theme throughout this entire body of work. “Tru Love” is a touching piece that speaks of the spiritual nature of love and clearly shows that Randevyn has given much thought to the subject. I couldn’t tell if he was talking about God or a woman, then I gave it a deeper listen and found that he was talking about both. This is a smooth album that will touch your soul. “SolTrain” is a very impressive debut full of positive, memorable material.

Mut Asheru [Just Soul]

The Vault Vol. 1.5
  The Vault Vol. 1.5  
  Recommended if you like:
- Dwele
- Floetry
- Jill Scott
 
Review
Eric Roberson 'The Vault Vol. 1.5' [Steelpetal Music]
 

New Jersey born Eric Roberson is a busy guy. He has worked with artists such as Jill Scott, Dwele, Musiq Soulchild, Vivian Green and 112 just to name a few. He returned to his Blue Room studio in 2004 to record his third album "Presents: The Vault Vol 1.5". When listening to this album they are three things that are quite evident: Eric Roberson can sing, he knows about love and he is a good story teller. Despite the similar songs that appear in his previous album "Presents: The Vault Vol. 1" Eric provides some newer material to his listeners hence why this volume is termed “1 and a half” as its not a complete new volume. Similar to his previous album, Eric begins opening his soulful vault to his listeners with “Couldn’t hear me” where he tells a story about love and jealousy of a female fan amongst other things. From this point on, Eric takes you into a journey of different stories, and situations that he has endured. He pours out his feelings on “She ought to know” with songtress Marsha Ambrosius from Floetry. In “Obstacles”, he discusses what things he has gone through. He begs for his girl not to change and stay the way she is in “Change for me.” When listening to these songs, one cannot help but to stop and relate to some if not all the songs and stories Eric spills into the microphone. Eric puts a little twist (which turns out quite well) on “Rock with you” where he starts off the track with a head swinging R&B track and then halfway through it pauses, utters “When the party was over.” and then switches it up to a soulful groovy house mix forcing you to nothing but dance. This house groove spills over into “Change for me” which has become an underground hit for Eric. Eric closes his soulful vault with his bonus track “I have song” from the movie Prison song, a story of those who are incarcerated hoping and praying for the day when they are free. Eric’s voice is smooth throughout the all the tracks and often bears similarity to Dwele (minus the adlibs) and sometimes Musiq Soulchild as what is heard in “Obstacles.” With the help of strong consistent beats and production intertwined with Eric’s melodic voice you will do nothing but close your eyes and just nod. Eric’s down to earth, truthful lyrics is a major factor to the overall production of this album. Instead of complaining about love, bitching about love, chastising about love, he tells about sacrificing love, celebrating love and enjoying love, something that a lot of R&B singers today seem to lack.

Dwight Barrett [Just Soul]

Worldwide Underground
  Worldwide Underground  
  Recommended if you like:
- Musiq Soulchild
- Angie Stone
- Goapele
 
Review
Erykah Badu 'Worldwide Underground' [Motown]
 

When Ms. Badu first came into the scene in 1997 with her debut album, “Baduizm” she was nicknamed the next “Billie Holiday” with her soulful beats and food for thought lyrics. She then dropped her traditional head wrap and her dreads (literally) in her second studio album “Mama’s Gun” where she wanted someone to give her “water for her mind.” Erykah Badu has now returned back in 2003 with a big Afro with her third studio album, “Worldwide Underground.” This album might come as little shock to some hardcore Erykah Badu fans. In Baduizm, jazz fused with neosoul beats was the centre theme around her songs. In "Mama’s Gun", Erykah dug further into her roots and explored the 70’s smooth r&b grooves at same time combining some jazz. In this album, Erykah evolves again and instead of the soothing songs that you would nod to, you will instead bop your head. Erykah begins "Worldwide Underground" with “Pump it” which serves as preliminary warning to listeners that this ain’t no “love jones chill out CD.” “Back in the day (Puff)” serves as a head banger as Erykah sings about the memories of the days when all that was needed was music to soothe one’s mind along side with some other “recreational stuff.” (you can probably figure out what the “puff” means.) Erykah keeps the funky groove theme but changes a slight gear in “I want you” where she oozes out her feelings towards a lover. With a couple of other songs that she throws in this album, she ends the album with “Love of my life worldwide” with soul sisters, Queen Latifah, Angie Stone and Bahamdia. Interestingly in this album, Erykah decides to tantalize her fans with her earlier work by blending it into her funky grove mix. She steals her beat and lyrics from “Sometimes” from Baduizm for her song “Woo.” Likewise, she uses a sample of “Otherside of the game” for the beginning of “Danger” which serves as sort of a Part 2 of her “Otherside of the game”. This might seem unique at first however this also unfortunately shows that Erykah Badu might have lost her creativity or simply ran out of lyrics and thought that regurgitating them into a remix might serve her some justice. She makes an attempt to do a remake of Donald Byrd’s “Think Twice” which is good but could have been longer. The one major downfall with this album---it’s too short and with repeat of lyrics and samples from her first album are just a few examples that illustrate this. A major example is where Erykah ends “I want you” with a five-minute guitar riff solo that unfortunately clashes with general music theme of the album. She attempts this once again in her outro with another ‘experimental’ piece that clearly does not fit. "Worldwide underground" takes a little to get use to but after a couple of listens you will start bopping your head and singing to Erykah’s tunes and remembering back in the days when things were cool.

Dwight Barrett [Just Soul]

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