Raheem DeVaughn

The Love Experience

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In the time it takes to listen to Raheem DeVaughn's The Love Experience, from start to finish, you can also cycle twice through Prince's Dirty Mind and end up somewhere in the middle of a third play of "Do It All Night." DeVaughn does it until the tape runs out. His debut is a very long album -- 70 minutes, in fact, and it would still be too lengthy without the concluding eight-minute thank-you track. So, if there's one thing DeVaughn didn't learn from his mother's record collection, it's brevity. He did, however, pick up a lot of other things from the past, most of which are far more important to have. Vocally, he's not too far from Dwele, with smooth, sweet tones that often drift into an even sweeter falsetto, though he could use a little of his peer's lyrical subtleties. His voice immediately pulls you in, so the shortcoming isn't as much of a factor as it would be with a singer of lesser skill. Most of his inspirations dwell in the '70s, favoring spare arrangements and elegant string flourishes over dramatic bombast and piercing keyboard stabs. Through numerous highlights scattered across the disc, it becomes apparent that DeVaughn is remarkably creative and talented and should be watched. One does wonder, however, if he was allowed too much creative freedom for a newcomer. His boldness also creeps into "Until," where he removes Ron Isley's voice from the Isley Brothers' "Footsteps in the Dark" (!) and sings a rather heavy-handed and self-absorbed set of verses about his hardships. Perhaps he could have learned something from a song by another (unrelated) DeVaughn -- William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful for What You Got." And furthermore, why on earth would anyone want to toy with a perfect classic? [The Love Experience was initially released as a copy-protected CD, which may not register on some computers.]

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