Music News

Rachel Brown

Contemporary R&B quite often seems like a genre that's become a victim of its own name. There hasn't been a lot of progress out of the genre in the past 15 years, and the best stuff out there is typically recycled Mary-J.-Blige-meets-Luther-Vandross material that doesn't offer anything new. So it's good to see a fresh face adding something new to the sound of R&B; the fact that she's local makes it that much more enjoyable. Singer/songwriter Rachel Brown is keeping things grown-up and respectfully sexy on her debut release, Love, Life & Relationships, on which the Texas-born but longtime South Florida resident croons her way through a solid collection of tunes built on hard lessons. The 15 songs on the album cover a lot of ground, but don't expect any babymama drama or ghetto strife. Instead, Brown keeps it classy, with jams about enjoying white linen parties, stepping in the name of love, and watching out for brothers on the "down low." In that sense, there's a lot of black humor on the album as well as a variety of production shifts that show off her vocal range. One of the best songs here, "Let's Fall in Love Again," is a sexy jam for couples, and it makes for perfect stepping music as well. "Weekend" is an upbeat rocker that, with the right marketing behind it, could easily end up on urban radio stations' "drive at 5" format. There is also a good cover of the Emotions' 1977 hit "Don't Ask My Neighbor" that does much to highlight Brown's singing ability. If that sounds like what you can enjoy, then Love, Life & Relationships is an album that needs to be in your collection. But without any of those qualifiers, it's just good music — and that's what counts.

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Jonathan Cunningham