20 Best R&B Albums of 2014

The year in tough lovers, elusive chanteuses, purple royalty and more

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K. Michelle, 'Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?'
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16/20

16. K. Michelle, 'Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?'

Last year, K. Michelle's Rebellious Soul hearkened the new R&B reality of hard love and no-bullshit language. Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart offers a softer tone and a sense of reflection: Michelle is still the heartbreaker who "Loves Em All" just because she can, but she no longer pretends to be invincible. One example is "Cry," where she wails like Roy Orbison as she promises to make an ex-boyfriend "Pay me in tears/You owe me for all these years." There's "God I Get It," a country-ish tune with slide guitar, a plucked banjo where she offers a mea culpa: "I'm a mess and I admit it." The music shifts with each number, from the soul-jazz dramatics of "Judge Me" to the synth-funk erotica of "Something About the Night," as this Southern queen proves she's more than a one-sound emoticon. M.R.

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