She

Smith works a nether region 'twixt Beyoncé and Norah Jones, no doubt why she wound up in major-label limbo after her eclectic 2006 debut. The equally adventurous follow-up lands in a new R&B world that embraces oddballs like Janelle Monáe and Santigold, whose stylistic freestyles Smith beat to market. She does sultry and cool well. But the hotter – see the Nina Simone-conjuring "She" – the better.

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