20 Best R&B Albums of 2017

Sharon Jones, Khalid, SZA, Miguel and more

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H.E.R., 'H.E.R.'

15. H.E.R., 'H.E.R.'15/20

15. H.E.R., 'H.E.R.'

H.E.R. operated in the shadows for much of 2017 – she's actually 20-year-old Gabi Wilson from Vallejo, California – but her position of mystery afforded her some secret strength on this debut full-length, which collects her EPs from the past two years, as well as selected B-sides. Wilson showcases her fluttery alto over downtempo R&B that veers from weak-kneed (the seductive "Lights On," which shouts out "D'Angelo and penthouse views") to steadfast (the now-or-never ultimatum "Still Down"). That versatility allows her to inhabit an Everywoman space so convincing that it inspired a fairly legitimate answer record. When Wilson was still incognito, her slow-burn cover of If You're Reading This It's Too Late's "Jungle" indicated that she might be a student of Drake's (in the Weeknd tradition). However, the tendency toward enigma at this music's center only adds to its unique potency. M.J.

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