V

The Revelation is Now Televised

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The opening track of V's first album is a smart takeoff of the old standard "It Was a Very Good Year," dramatically setting the scene for the album in much the same way that the similarly lush opening of OutKast's The Love Below does. The Philadelphia-based R&B singer's a mellower cat than Andre Benjamin, however, and he's also glossier and more suave than Anthony Hamilton, the other neo-soul singer he most closely resembles. If the churchy Hamilton's the new Al Green or Bill Withers, V is more like the new Lou Rawls: he never breaks a sweat on The Revelation Is Now Televised, even at his most impassioned. Similarly, the production (headed up by the too-quiet Jazzy Jeff) is elegant and richly detailed, balanced between crisp R&B electronics and the orchestral vibe of classic Philly soul. To complete the hometown rooting section, the great Jill Scott guests on the album's high point, the exhilarating "Born Again." A hugely enjoyable album that looks backward while remaining utterly contemporary, The Revelation Is Now Televised is a must-listen for neo-soul fans.

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