Raheem DeVaughn Does What He Does Superbly
Raheem DeVaughn⎪ A Place Called Love Land ⎪Mass Appeal⎪⎪ US Release Date: September 3, 2013
Classy is a positive adjective in my book, however when it comes to music, classiness isn’t necessarily the first adjective that comes to mind when describing a potential commercially successful artist or album. R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn epitomizes classiness, particularly with his brand of R&B that thrives on uplifting the woman and making her feel genuine love. Despite his refined brand of adult contemporary R&B and touches of retro-soul (formerly of the neo-soul school that seems long gone), DeVaughn’s no commercial juggernaut. Now gone the indie-R&B rap where the neo-soul hippie likely best fit anyways, there isn’t the slightest bit of fall off on A Place Called Love Land, another welcome addition to the artist’s rich discography.
A Place Called Love Land is filled with interludes, opening with “Interlude” which establishes the vibe of the effort. “Love Connection” takes the bait, opening both smoothly and soundly. DeVaughn’s performance isn’t incredibly flashy, but his restraint and coolness more than manage to deliver a punch. After building the connection, DeVaughn continues to shine on “Wrong Forever”, which captures the ear instantly with the beat boxing at the onset. Sporting an archetypical, jazzy harmonic progression, “Wrong Forever” is well written and worthwhile. “Honey, like I’m Hugh Hefner / thinking I could have a million girls but still keep her…”, DeVaughn sings on the first verse, only to sum up his ‘wrongs’ on the chorus stating “…Now I gotta deal with the fact I did you wrong forever…” Deep stuff for sure.
“Interlude – Don’t Go” may be under two minutes, but while listening, you keep thinking, this could’ve been another, full-fledged hit. It’s leads into the outstanding “Complicated” where DeVaughn truly earns every cent and more of his royalties. RD growls grittily by the end, letting that ridiculous falsetto shine to the upmost. Somewhere ‘in between’ within his relationship, DeVaughn doesn’t want to label it: “I’m kinda single, but I’m in love, it’s complicated because, because / I’m being patient , can’t say we’re dating, I can’t explain it, it’s complicated girl…” “In The Meantime” finds DeVaughn among his best, over soulful, bright production. Brief at under three minutes, “In The Meantime” still proves to be a perfect fit.
Following “Interlude: Rebirth”, DeVaughn sings “So call me a fool / call me insane / tell me hat loving you the way you do is ridiculous… baby if loving you the way I do is ridiculous / then call me ridiculous…” on the thoughtful “Ridiculous”, yet another number finding him on autopilot. Through in the soulful progression, hard anchoring drums, and fine songwriting, and everything feels right. “Pink Crush Velvet” has a difficult act to follow, but continues the consistency established by DeVaughn. And honestly, when you have hard drums, rhythmic upper register piano chords, and some synths, how can you go wrong? Oh, of course the vocals of a pro truly set things on fire.
“Greatest Love” continues a group of generally unobjectionable numbers that may not supersede say “Woman” (Love Behind The Melody), but are strong additions by all means. “Cry Baby” is among my favorites, delivering a beautiful slow jam produced by Adonis Shropshire. Then there’s the more gentlemanly-than-expected “Make A Baby”: “Just think we made it / a boy with swagga like mine / and to be sure let’s go all night / and if it’s a girl / like her mama she gonna be so fine…” Sure the sensuality is there, but it transcends that.
“Make Em Like You” continues the flattery, but at least it feels genuine (“Take me to your momma and your daddy so I can say thank you cause I just want them blessings…”). The production definitely stands out, hearkening back to the past. What better way to close than single “Maker of Love” featuring Boney James?
All and all, Raheem continues to flex his soulful, gentlemanly muscles on A Place Called Loveland. There is nothing incredibly innovative per se, but ‘tried and true’ Raheem DeVaughn always seems to deliver.
Favorites: “Love Connection”; “Wrong Forever”; “Complicated”; “Cry Baby”; “Make A Baby”; “Make Em Like You”
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