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Album Review

Soulchild doubles the fun with duets

(Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
January 5, 2009
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R&B
Musiq Soulchild On My Radio
Atlantic
ESSENTIAL "ifuleave"

Despite a solid body of work, the earnest but engaging R&B singer Musiq Soulchild has never really broken out commercially, but don't tell the ladies that. Go to one of his shows and it's a swarm of pure devotion. It's probably because they believe faith and desire are his emotions, not his strippers.

With his fifth album, he pretty much follows his Philly soul formula (even though he now lives in Atlanta), gliding his lithe vocals over keys and an acoustic instrumental dynamic that allow him to shine. Soulchild never overwhelms you, but here he delivers supremely good songs like "ifuleave," a dynamic lovers duet with Mary J. Blige, and "iwannabe," a Caribbean-accented curveball with Damian Marley. And his singing is gorgeous on "sobeautiful" (he must have driven English teachers in Philly crazy).

Also included is "radio," a radically different, Timbaland-influenced song that ironically didn't turn on radio and nearly got dumped from the disc. It actually sounds like a direction he should go in and find a happy medium between his finely calibrated, midtempo loverman sound and more artistic adventure. The ladies certainly will not lovehimless. (Out now)

KEN CAPOBIANCO

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