Soul revivalists have been coming out of the woodwork over the past few years, but discs like Aloe Blacc’s Good Thing make it hard to grow weary of the trend. Expanding on the smooth, minimal, vaguely vintage R&B of his 2006 debut, Shine Through, Blacc (a.k.a. Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III) works his smoky voice into a broad range of instrumentals, from the dub-heavy bass and psychedelic guitar of “Miss Fortune” to the slinky, blaxploitation-infused funk of “Hey Brother.” That said, Blacc is no maestro; his vocals are so low-key, they often verge on nondescript, which fits beautifully while channeling Nico on a lush overhaul of The Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale.” Producers Jeff Dynamite and Leon Michels of Truth & Soul Productions deserve much of the credit for the album’s stark arrangements and tastefully muted palette. But Blacc’s charismatic blend of gravitas and ease is what humanizes and vivifies Shine Through’s ageless appeal. When he pivots effortlessly from wounded victim to vengeful survivor on the Norman Whitfield-esque stomper “Loving You Is Killing Me,” the decades—and a lot of hearts—simply melt away.
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