Aloe Blacc, 'Good Things' (Stones Throw)

8
Good Things
Critical Mass
Label: Stones Throw

by Mosi Reeves

Nathaniel "Aloe Blacc" Hawkins' first album since his promising 2006 debut is yet another retro-soul riff, but the rapper turned singer's wonderfully expressive voice (shades of Bill Withers) sets him apart from stylized crooners. For Good Things, he offers a sympathetic tale of a homeless drunk ("I Need a Dollar," featured on HBO's How to Make It in America) and delivers love songs full of lyrical grace ("You Make Me Smile"). Despite Truth & Soul Productions' lean, understated arrangements, Good Things carries an oversize emotional impact, especially when Blacc pays tribute to his aging mother ("Hold My Hand") over a gust of violins.

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