The Abandoned Lullaby

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The Abandoned Lullaby, despite production from RJD2, is not a rap album, or anything close to it. Of course, anyone who's even partially followed RJD2's career knows that he's long departed from the instrumental hip-hop production he made his name on. After the release of his second album, 2004's Since We Last Spoke, Mr. Krohn began exploring the melodic side of indie rock, using first his own voice (2007's The Third Hand) and then the voices of others (2010's The Colossus). It was from one of these collaborations, with Philadelphia singer/songwriter Aaron Livingston, that Icebird was born. The Abandoned Lullaby is as close as anything to proof that RJD2 made the right change: it's superbly composed, produced, and executed retro-soul neo-pop, a memorable album that lines up well next to ones from Adele, Janelle MonĂ¡e, and Gnarls Barkley. One thing RJD2 has always done well is hooks, and the hooks are plenty here, from the utterly singable "I'm Green" to the Jeff Buckley-meets-TVOTR of "Going and Going. And Going." It's true that sometimes the songs do begin to resemble one another ("Please, Don't" sounds like "Just Love Me," "Wander" like the aforementioned "I'm Green"), and most have you searching for the clearest influence (Lenny Kravitz? Amy Winehouse? Bruno Mars? Camu Tao? Alice Smith?), but it's all so pleasant and likable that it doesn't matter. The Abandoned Lullaby is a success because it's not so concerned about appearances and trends that it forgets what it's good at, and what it is: a playful, thoughtful, catchy-as-hell pop record that bounces around from note to note and theme to theme with the deftness of someone who's used to writing for sets of 16 bars and various MCs and doesn't want to be limited by that. So even if it can be repetitive, and can sometimes feel just a little too planned out, it's all done well, and doesn't lessen the overall effect of listening to a record that knows exactly what it wants to say.

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