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Album: Aloe Blacc, Good Things (Stones Throw)

Aloe Blacc, despite an occasional tendency to lapse into cliche, brings a welcome intelligence and individuality to his R&B stylings, drawing on the warmth of Bill Withers and the compassion of Curtis Mayfield for his more conscious-soul commentaries like the self-explanatory "Life So Hard" and "Mama Hold My Hand", a reflection on the reversal of roles required as parents grow old and infirm.

In particular, he brings a vulnerable vocal quality to tracks such as the poverty anthem "I Need a Dollar" and "If I", where his multi-tracked harmonies resemble a jubilee spiritual quartet. With arrangements that blend itchy wah-wah guitar with cascading horns and shivering strings, the effect is a pertinent update of 1970s virtues, most strikingly so on an unexpected soul version of the Velvets' "Femme Fatale".

DOWNLOAD THIS I Need a Dollar; Femme Fatale; Hey Brother; If I