Rahsaan Patterson

Heroes & Gods

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There's never a bad time for a new Rahsaan Patterson album, but 2019 is uniquely appropriate, as it's the singer's 35th year in the entertainment industry. Moreover, the release of Patterson's last proper LP is creeping toward its eighth anniversary, consequently his longest period of silence by far. Patterson seemed to be touring for most of the break, however, and presumably spent a good amount of time sketching and sharpening the material that makes up Heroes & Gods. Like his two most recent albums, Bleuphoria and Wines & Spirits, it communicates many emotions relating to intimacy and continually switches up sounds, like a lovingly personalized 60-minute mixtape that prioritizes quality over flow. Working most frequently with Jamey Jaz and Derrick Walker, both of whom have been supporting him for over 20 years, Patterson references bygone eras crossing several decades while twisting contemporary sounds, grounded as ever in gospel and soul, and throws in a couple of stylistic curveballs. The idiosyncratic set is out of time and modern at once. Patterson has the nerve to cover Luther Vandross' "Don't You Know That," and does so with a masterfully sensitive touch that exudes all the delight and affection of the original. The songs that immediately precede and follow it are so well-made that they resemble skillful updates of classics. The lusting slow jam "Break It Down," featuring Lalah Hathaway on lead synthesizer and co-writer Joi Gilliam on background vocals, slips and slides like it was built to follow Mtume's "You, Me and He." The devotional ballad "Sent from Heaven" moves back another decade, durable enough to pass as a composite of Earth, Wind & Fire and Ashford & Simpson. As much as these and other highlights recall some of the greats, the stylish falsetto-wielding tenor who made them can't be confused with anyone else.

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