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Despite a couple of unsure moments, Ali's debut album Crucial is an impressive effort from a contemporary soul singer determined to keep the spirit of classic soul alive. Throughout Crucial, Ali demonstrates an understanding of classic Al Green and Sam Cooke, but he's sensible enough to keep the beats fresh and funky, so it will appeal to a post-new jack generation. Even if he isn't able to pull off a completely successful record, the album remains an impressive debut, with the best moments, such as the single "Love Letters," proving that Ali is a fine, nuanced vocalist and a promising songwriter.

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