Eric Benét

Eric Benét

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Eric Benét's self-titled album is his first proper studio recording issued in the U.S. since 2012, the year he released The One. Between the two dates, there was The Other One, a set of remixes from the Afropeans, as well as From E to U, Vol. 1, an all-covers set released in Japan. No derailment, this picks up where The One left off, with a mature and modern sound deeply rooted in traditional R&B. Thanks in part to long-term associate Demonté Posey, who produced and wrote almost everything, it is a little friskier and funkier. History-aware listeners should have a ball picking up on certain likenesses, like the bopping One Way-style keyboards tucked inside "Cold Trigger," a high-stepping slice of big band soul-funk. "Insane," a slow strut, makes like Mint Condition meets Prince, with an insatiable and slightly risqué Benét howling in falsetto. As fiery as that is, it's eclipsed by the mellower and cleaner "Broke, Beat & Busted," an impeccable Jonathan Richmond-produced ballad that deserves a years-long run of steady rotation on urban adult contemporary stations. This material never resembles an act of nostalgia, despite its intentional or unintentional references. It all stands on its own, casting the singer in a bright light, whether he's dealing out slow jams, sophisticated funk, or adult contemporary numbers.

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