When the jazz bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding's Chamber Music Society secured her last year's Grammy for Best New Artist, her Wikipedia page was targeted by enraged Bieberphiles, as if she had personally slighted their hero.
Despite this obvious recommendation, the more radio-friendly follow-up still proves hard to love. "Radio Song" and "I Can't Help It" are more admirable than enjoyable, their elegantly complex soul-jazz lines resembling a more conservatoire Alicia Keys, minus the anthems. There's no faulting the chops but the momentum of tracks such as the flaccid "Crowned & Kissed" and windy big-band number "Hold on Me" falters when it should press on. But the aspirational didacticism of "Black Gold" and "Land of the Free" is persuasively delivered, and I like her taste for jazz guitar with a pleasantly astringent tang.
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