On his second album, Juslisen, Musiq -- who dropped the "(Soulchild)" surname -- delivers on the promise of his debut, turning in a slyly assured, smoothly sexy collection of neo-soul. One of the most appealing things about Musiq is that he never oversells his songs, never indulges in hyperbolic screams or exaggerated grunts and moans. He lays back on the groove but doesn't disappear into it -- he deepens it and gives it character, making this more than a supremely seductive neo-soul record. And, to be sure, it is that, a wonderfully romantic mood album, but it's more than that because Musiq has other skills besides crooning and keeping a mood. First of all, he and his collaborators are first-class writers, sustaining interest not just through the singles, but through the album tracks. Then, he and his producers know how to deliver a sound that at once hearkens back to classic '70s soul and feels lushly contemporary. Musiq doesn't hide his love for classic soul -- he's seen on the back cover digging through crates of vinyl, surrounded by eight-tracks -- but the great thing about what he pulls off on Juslisen is that this love is absorbed, ingrained in the very music, so while it's reminiscent of Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye at times, it never feels like a forced attempt to follow in their footsteps. Which, of course, is why it feels like a worthy heir.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Carol Riddick