Raheem DeVaughn releases his eighth album, What a Time to Be in Love, on The SoNo Recording Group. The soul singer’s latest project is entirely produced by his frequent collaborators, The Colleagues. DeVaughn opens the set with a jukebox style intro “WDMG69.1” that plays snippets of the singer’s previous hits. The singer then transitions into the smooth “What a Time to Be Alive,” which features a great spoken word by Ra Brown and DeVaughn’s background vocals. Ra Brown eloquently speaks about COVID-19 and current racial issues.
DeVaughn is known as the “Love King,” and he solidifies the moniker on the tracks “Up and Down” and the albums lead single “Mr. Midnight.” DeVaughn glides through with the songs with a smooth tenor and avoids going into crass a crass area with the lyrics. Following the slow jam one-two punch, DeVaughn gets serious with the Marvin Gaye homage, “Marvin Used to Say.” The song is political but has a timely message as DeVaughn croons lyrics such as “What’s the use of still saying prayers, if Deaf ears they fall on.” DeVaughn ends the song with a shout out to some current civil rights leaders.
Saxophonist Mike Philips, beatboxer Doug E. Fresh, and lyricist Kev Brown hop on the posse cut “Lawd Help Me,” which finds DeVaughn having a good time while delivering a positive message.
DeVaughn makes his way back into the slow jams with “Up For Air,” which will sound great in concert. The song’s production reminded me of a stripped-down Reggae tune, and hopefully, DeVaughn releases it as a single once the weather warms up.
DeVaughn has always had an old soul with singing style, and he showcases this on the album’s third single, “Twilight.” The Colleagues production on the songs reminded me of something that Blue Magic would’ve sung in their heyday, but DeVaughn turns into a grown man bedroom ballad. The sensuality continues on “Special Occasion,” which has a killer hook that had me nodding my head and thinking about my wife. I also commend DeVaughn for the piano-driven ballad.
Fifteen years into his music career, Raheem DeVaughn has no signs of slowing down. While I prefer slow jams and ballads, I would’ve loved one more up-tempo song on the project. Nevertheless, DeVaughn’s approach to the material and the Colleagues’ production more than make up for the omission of fast songs. His eighth project is a classy commixture of slow jams and black pride worth the listen.
Final Grade A –
Top Songs: “Twilight,” “Special Occasion,” “Up For Air”
What a Time to Be in Love is available now on all streaming platforms.
Physical copies are available for Purchase at your retailer or HERE