Raheem DeVaughn • Love Sex Passion • Entertainment One • US Release Date: February 17, 2015
Who’s among the most consistent R&B artists in the game? That would be Raheem DeVaughn, who recently dropped his fifth studio album, Love Sex Passion. Still on his independent flow, rather than being signed to Mass Appeal, DeVaughn is on indie standard bearer Entertainment One – the who who’s label of independent artists. Whether it’s moving from major to indie to a different indie label, DeVaughn’s sound remains unchanged – and who would have it any other way?
“Welcum 2 Love, Sex & Passion (Intro)” is a retrospective of DeVaughn’s career, covered brilliantly in 36 seconds. After setting the tone for Love Sex Passion, DeVaughn sensually kills it on the seven-minute opener, “Black Ice Cream.” Soulful and unquestionably a Raheem DeVaughn joint, the R&B singer ‘does work’ to say the least. “Pretty Lady” follows up exceptionally (and shorter in duration) with the help of Trombone Shorty. Quicker in pace, “Pretty Lady” is an appropriate contrast to “Black Ice Cream,” while maintaining the prominent theme of love.
On crowning achievement“Queen,” DeVaughn references back to his “Woman” days – arguably the biggest single of his career. The sound and overall songwriting has the same chivalrousness and sensibility. It’s undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. “Nothing Without You” keeps the script going flawlessly, finding DeVaughn singing of love so respectably it makes you truly embrace it without attaching it to physical pleasures. Lush and beautifully produced, “Nothing Without You” as a record matches up fantastically to DeVaughn’s artistic sensibilities and seemingly, his philosophical view on love and women.
“When You Love Somebody” stretches the duration once more, adding a legit throwback R&B joint to Love Sex Passion. DeVaughn indulges into the warmth and soulfulness, bringing his very best to the table. He follows it up with the more succinct adult contemporary R&B ballad “All I Know (My Heart).” As expected with DeVaughn’s music aside from his hits, it doesn’t necessarily deliver a knockout blow, but continues to pack a punch. The synths used with the production are a sound musical touch.
“Terms Of Endearment” opens with sexy, chill guitar accompaniment – a perfect backdrop for DeVaughn to deliver those said “terms of endearment.” Naturally, it grows more grandiose and dynamic by the close. Those “terms” turn physical on “Miss Your Sex,” a slow, churning bedroom ballad chocked full of falsetto and of course S-E-X. Still, there’s a class about DeVaughn, even when he turns from paying ode to the woman to getting down and dirty.
Neo-soul would seem to be clearly going strong on “Baby Come Back,” even with the movement long dissolved in contemporary R&B. Throwback soul at its best, “Baby Come Back” is a good ole R&B joint without being say a career defining hit. Then to keep things fresh, DeVaughn hearkens back to “Customer” on the ‘smooth as butter’ “Never Never Land.” Sure, even it is considered ‘old school’ by today’s standards, but by RV’s standards, he’s on that contemporary flow.
If “Never Never Land” was a bit sleepy and lenghty, “Temperature’s Rising” restores the gift of groove, even if it is still on the slower side. “Temperature’s Rising” has a slyness about it – it’s naughty, but not too naughty ultimately. Face it, we all know what DeVaughn is referring to with that “temperature rising!”
With temps rising, DeVaughn proclaims on “Sun Proof Room (50 Shades)” all he needs is a “Sun proof room, king size bed, legs spread…” you see where he’s going. It’s sensual as you know what, and who can be mad at that good game RV has? He keeps it going strong on “Strip,” invoking a mean, gritty growl in the process – vocally that is! “Strip” ranks among the best performances of Love Sex Passion.
“Countdown To Love” returns the album to more ‘refined fare,’ while retaining its sensuality. While physical reference remain, the physical is more accomplished through DeVaughn’s deadly falsetto – a lady-killer for sure. Then penultimate number “Feather Rock Lovin’” comes along, featuring Boney James and the Illadelph Horns, continuing a canvas painted with soulfulness and tender loving care. “Infiniti,” then, puts a cap on a fine contemporary soul album.
All in all, Love Sex Passion is every bit as any other Raheem DeVaughn album. Is it too long? Yes. Are there any hits that standout as game changers? No. Love Sex Passion is consistent and lacks flash. And guess what – there’s nothing wrong with that in the least!
Favorites: “Black Ice Cream,” “Pretty Lady,” “Queen,” “Nothing Without You,” “Strip”