20 Best R&B Albums of 2016

Frank Ocean, Solange, Alicia Keys and more

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Yuna, 'Chapters'

13. Yuna, 'Chapters'

After two critically acclaimed but commercially ignored albums, Malaysian star Yunalis Zara'ai finally broke through to the U.S. market when adult R&B radio warmed to "Crush," her lovely courtship duet with Usher. Yet there's more to Chapters, segmented like pages torn from a diary, than its occasional starry cameos or production from alt-R&B heavyweight Robin Hannibal. On "Lanes," she pivots on an argument that ensues after her lover posts a night of clubbing on Instagram: "Why do you keep telling me you're self-destructive?/I'm getting tired of your lies and your excuses," she sings. "If you've got a good girl then appreciate it." Her emotional sincerity is underlined by her quiet yet insistent voice, and she often sounds like she's whispering as she lyrically dismantles her ex-lover's arguments. Much of Chapters finds her falling out of love, but there are a few happy moments in this beautifully broken valentine: "Best Love" sways with a light disco pulse, and "Time" is a snapshot of her sometimes-painful adolescent years. M.R.

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