ROBIN THICKE: Something Else (Label: Star Trak, Interscope)

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ROBIN THICKE: Something Else

Robin Thicke’s been around for a while now and has still to completely convince soul fans of his credentials. His first two albums had some decent moments but his predilection for rock excesses and hip-hop-inspired moments prevented them from being too warmly received by the soul fraternity. Sadly (from a soul perspective, at least) this LP still dabbles with hip-hop and there are a few cuts with a distinctively rocky flavour. However, ‘Something Else’ contains some very strong soul moments and the album is well worth an investigation. Indeed the opening four cuts represent the best opening salvo from any album I’ve heard this year. First up there’s ‘You’re My Baby’. The tune’s a delightful mix of Philly strings, subtle Latin beats and a Gaye-inspired vocal. The second tune – ‘Sidestep’ – is jauntier and will surely please sophisticated steppers, while ‘Magic’ (the third track) has already won numerous devotees with its intriguing retro flavours. The quartet is completed by ‘Ms Harmony’ – a sweet, romantic quiet storm ballad, echoed later in the set by the beautiful ‘The Sweetest Love’ and the more dramatic ‘Cry No More’. Other cuts to intrigue the soul crowd are ‘Hard On My Love’ (an attempt at recreating the whole blaxploitation thing) and the LP’s title cut which seems to throw in a bit of everything soulful. Elsewhere ‘Dream World ‘ and ‘Loverman’ have a bluesy undercurrent while the rock roots of ‘Shadow Of Doubt’ and the input of Lil Wayne on ‘Tie My Hands’ might make you reach for the remote. Take those last two cuts out, though, and you have a very decent modern soul set that will delight and intrigue in equal amounts. Holding the album together is Thicke’s voice – clearly he’s listened long and hard to people like Eddie Kendricks and Marvin Gaye and perfected a fractured falsetto that can wring real emotion from the ballads. In many ways Thicke has taken up the mantle that Daryl Hall seems to have discarded … in places here, we have blue-eyed soul at its very best.
(BB) 3/5