This is Raheem DeVaughn’s third full studio album and with it he announces, finally, the arrival of a major talent. He makes that clear himself in the LP’s grandiose titling and by enlisting Dr. Cornel West to endorse the album via a series of spoken word cuts which include black intellectual West claiming that DeVaughn is the greatest soul singer of his generation. You can make up your own mind about that. Me? Well, I think he’s almost there. There’s lots about this album that’s really good – excellent even but there’s also a lot, that’s formulaic. There, I’m thinking specifically of the tracks on which young Raheem claims to be some kind of physical love god. On ‘B.O.B.’, for, instance, he assures his lady that he’s much, much better than any battery-operated sex toy that she might possess, while on ‘Microphone’ he leaves us in no doubt that he’s not singing about a device to amplify his voice. Yes, I know that double entendres have always been part of soul music but in the past it was always much more subtle and tongue-in-cheek, while the real stars like Marvin and Curtis and Otis rarely, if ever, resorted to it. Incidentally, despite the lyrics, both those cuts are decent little R&B grooves but there’s much better on the album. The Curtis Mayfield- sampled ‘Bulletproof’ is a magnificent brooding piece of real modern soul ( I hope real soul fans will be broadminded to accept Ludacris’ rap), while ‘The Greatest’ is the crispest, neatest, sweetest modern soul groove I’ve heard so far in 2010. ‘I Don’t Care’ is almost as good… and as you’d imagine they form part of the ‘Love’ section’ of the album. The ‘War’ part comes chiefly towards the end with the big set piece ‘Nobody Wins A War’ and the brighter ‘Revelations 2010’. The former boasts a guest list of Cecil B de Mille proportions and includes cameos from people like Jill Scott, Ledisi, Dwele and Anthony Hamilton. It’s a builder of a tune and I can praise it no higher than to say that the guy we’ve mentioned twice already (Curtis Mayfield) would be proud of it. The latter – which features Damian Marley – is a touch lighter but none the less provocative. It brings to an end a quite substantial album… and in some ways that’s then problem with it. It’s too damn big! There’s just too much of it and because it’s so overwhelming maybe the important messages get diluted. Still, ‘Love And War’ almost lives up to its ‘Masterpiece’ billing… it is a very, very good soul album.