D'Angelo's collaborators have teased the long-awaited follow-up to his 2000 masterpiece, Voodoo, for years, but Liles now says recording for the album is virtually done and that the singer is mixing and mastering the new set of tracks. So much was put to tape during the sessions, Liles added, there might even be a few bonus albums.
Liles described the record's sound as wide-reaching, touching on everything from soul to rock. "[I]t's very melodic and there's an influence of all the things he loves: there's James Brown, there's Prince, and everything people grew up loving D'Angelo for, from Brown Sugar to Voodoo." Liles said. "It's a mixture and an evolution of where he is right now. And you have to think that when you have the opportunity to work 10 years on an album, that album's truly gonna be what you want it to be. Is it limited to the kind of sound that he did with the earlier records? No, it's not."
Liles recalled how D'Angelo's perfectionism grew more focused after he returned to the stage in 2012. "He very bluntly put it, 'Kev, the studio and the stage: that's my lifeblood. Now that I've touched it again, now that I see it again, I wanna be sure that the baby I'm about to have — the album — that I take it to the point where it's all it can be.'"
While D'Angelo has some upcoming one-off shows — including a James Brown tribute at the Hollywood Bowl in August — Liles said an actual tour will begin in October with some international dates before the singer returns to the states, with the trek stretching into 2015.
Back in May, D'Angelo sat down with author Nelson George for a 90-minute conversation in Brooklyn as part of the Red Bull Music Academy. While the interview didn't touch on the new album, a surprisingly affable D'Angelo spoke about his past material, influences and musical aspirations. In a telling moment, D'Angelo hinted at his future sound while discussing the limiting nature of a genre term like "neo-soul." "I respect it for what it is, but anytime you put a name on something, you just put it in a box," he said. "You want to be in a position where you can grow as an artist. You never want to be told, 'Hey, well, you're a neo-soul artist.' Right now, I'm not. We're going someplace else."