Raheem DeVaughn

The Love Reunion

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Either two or three years passed between each of the albums Raheem DeVaughn released from 2005 through 2018, so it's kind of a shock to see the self-dubbed "Love King" return only eight months after his sixth album with The Love Reunion. There's no evidence that it was rushed. It's simply another sturdy LP of mature R&B, exclusively one-on-one, all about love and lust. The title song -- where DeVaughn breaks the fourth wall -- addresses couples recovering from infidelity. Otherwise, there's no turbulence, and like Decade of a Love King, it's a lovers' holiday furnished with a steady supply of affectionate sentiments and liquid hooks. What does sound overly familiar is still inviting for the vocal performances, all of which display skill and radiate charisma. The singer puts his upper register to good use on all the highlights. "Ballerina" is supreme, combining a pulsating rhythm, swaying hook, and a little bit of winking humor. Among DeVaughn's slow jams, it's up there with "You" and "Customer." Just beneath is "Rose Gold," a sheer ballad in a vein similar to Prince and D'Angelo, and "Joyful Noise," like a lost smooth crossover groove from 1983. DeVaughn could bring down many a pavilion by closing his sets with the latter and a cover of Pieces of a Dream's "Fo-Fi-Fo."

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