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Black Messiah

Fourteen years after his last album, the R&B star returns with a warm, expansive masterpiece

D'Angelo

Here’s to messiahs worth waiting for. D’Angelo has kept the world fiending 14 years for the follow-up to his Crisco-thick R&B classic, Voodoo, but as the man himself purrs in “Sugah Daddy,” “Can’t snatch the meat out of the lioness’ mouth/Sometimes you gotta just ease it out.” Black Messiah shows how deep easy can go. D’Angelo and his band have built an avant-soul dream palace to get lost in, for 56 minutes of heaven.

All over Black Messiah, D’Angelo is a trouble man exorcising his trouble. In “Back to the Future (Part I),” he even jokes about his long layoff: “If you’re wondering about the shape I’m in/I hope it ain’t my abdomen.” There’s a hint of political rage in “The Charade” (“All we wanted was a chance to talk/’Stead, we only got outlined in chalk”) and “1000 Deaths,” showing off the harsh side of D’s ever-amazing guitar.

“Another Life” is an album-closing deep-soul epic in the spirit of Prince’s “Adore” or Al Green’s “Beware,” building on Questlove’s drums, some Thom Bell-style sitar from D’Angelo himself and the man’s warmest falsetto, stretching out minute after minute – because who would want this groove to stop? It will take at least 14 years to absorb all the pleasures in Black Messiah.  

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