Rico Love

Turn the Lights On

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When Rico Love released Turn the Lights On, his debut album, he had been in the shadows as a songwriter, producer, and occasional recording artist -- a singer and rapper -- for over a decade. From Bone Crusher to Beyoncé, Rico, who has penned hits but achieved true creative greatness by co-writing the prime Usher deep cut "Throwback," has been sought by a disparate variety of acts. That pliability wasn't on display in his 2014 EP Discrete Luxury, an unrepentant set of ballerific slow jams. "You don't be talking like a lame bitch," from Top 15 R&B hit "They Don't Know," was among its most romantic lines. Follow-up Turn the Lights On displays much more range in sentiment and sound. There's melancholic longing in "Days Go By," a midtempo groove that evokes early-'80s soft rock (and humorously references Tank). For "Run from Me," a throwback-styled soul ballad co-written by Jack Splash, Rico briefly takes aim at himself: "Who made you feel so bad? Who told you all those lies?" Through tapping percussion and wrenching vocals, he conveys snarled emotions in "For the Kids." There's plenty of room allowed for Rico's swaggering, sinister side, exemplified by the final verse of album opener "TTLO": "Got rich before I got famous/Now shit is starting to get dangerous/And if you think money won't change shit/Wait until you buy a hundred thousand dollar chain, bitch." It's trailed by the tracks that deliver the hardest and softest blows, both of which are highlights: "Bad Attitude," with a shrewd sample of Adrian Younge's dark psychedelic soul and a Raekwon verse, and "Trifling," a rippling ballad regarding a tryst that weaves euphoria and guilt. A surprisingly low-key release given the success that preceded it, this is one of the better commercial R&B albums of 2015.

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