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As the title implies, Robin Thicke’s latest effort, Something Else, offers an alternative to the mainstay R&B, which lately seems best suited for poppin’ and twerkin’. The largely self produced set is a chivalrous assembly of live instrumentation and intentional vocal arrangements.

The follow up to 2007’s platinum plus, Evolution of Robin Thicke, Something Else takes inspiration from some of R&B’s most respected tenants and offshoots on songs like “Loveman,” which channels the late great Marvin Gaye. The lead single, “Magic,” could have easily been crafted in the soulful enclave of Philadelphia in the late seventies and “Something Else,” the title track, is a charming attempt at disco. Each song is a testament that Thicke definitely respects the classics. However, there is a slight lack of authenticity (aka confidence) that makes Something Else sound more like a sample sale, than instant vintage.

Ironically, the notes and tones that gave Thicke notoriety is where he seems least confident. “You’re My Baby” and “Ms. Harmony” both flaunt Thicke’s popular falsetto which quickly moves from soothing to the soul to at times weighing heavily on the ear. Each song, though, is still noteworthy even if only for their carefully crafted lyrics. Thankfully, when he sings in full voice (“Sidestep,” “Hard On My Love”) the necessary balance is achieved to make the entire effort worth the bullet.

Though at times it could use a little more signature, Something Else is a winner. By keeping the guest appearances to a minimum (“Tie My Hands” featuring Lil Wayne) and not kowtowing to the sudden attention of super producers,Thicke ultimately achieves enough personalization to earn his keep in a kingdom where the self proclaimed kings rely too heavily on the hired help.

Buy this man’s CD.

Something Else is in stores now.

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