Raheem DeVaughn - Love Behind the Melody (2008)

Raheem DeVaughn
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With the country at war, it's no coincidence that so many recording artists are producing albums with a consistent theme of love. Raheem DeVaughn is no exception. Love Behind the Melody is the follow-up to his major label debut The Love Experience, which garnered him a considerable amount of recognition from neo-soul fans.

Born and raised in Maryland, Raheem signed to Jive Records in 2002 after establishing a mighty following in and around the Washington, D.C. area. The Love Experience came to fruition in 2005 and suffered from a lack of label support. The self-proclaimed "R&B-hippie-neosoul-rockstar" didn't give up on his dream. Now, with a Grammy nomination for the lead single "Woman" off his sophomore album Love Behind the Melody, the underground soul community has given birth to yet another potential legend-in-the-making.

With the country at war, it's no coincidence that so many recording artists are producing albums with a consistent theme of love. Raheem DeVaughn is no exception. Love Behind the Melody is the follow-up to his major label debut The Love Experience, which garnered him a considerable amount of recognition from neo-soul fans.

Born and raised in Maryland, Raheem signed to Jive Records in 2002 after establishing a mighty following in and around the Washington, D.C. area. The Love Experience came to fruition in 2005 and suffered from a lack of label support. The self-proclaimed "R&B-hippie-neosoul-rockstar" didn't give up on his dream. Now, with a Grammy nomination for the lead single "Woman" off his sophomore album Love Behind the Melody, the underground soul community has given birth to yet another potential legend-in-the-making.

Love Behind the Melody would be more aptly titled as "love in front of the melody" since there's nothing subtle or hidden about this theme. Raheem's persona is equally boastful on the album's introduction "Hello Love," which declares his return to the music scene. He cements his musical contribution by stating "some people make music for a moment - I make music for a lifetime."

This boastful form of romantic love best satisfies on the intoxicating "Love Drug" and the heartfelt "Butterflies." "Love Drug" documents Raheem's addiction to a revered female lover. His tone is irresistible and comforting. Then, on "Butterflies," Raheem convinces the listener that this particular brand of loving is full of jitters. The fear of starting a new romance takes its toll on the nervous system.

There's an avalanche of adoration for the opposite sex on Love Behind the Melody. About 90-percent of the album falls in line accordingly.

On the flipside, Love Behind the Melody suffers from a lack variety and originality. "Energy" is a mediocre scaled-down imitation of Gnarls Barkley's infectious super-hit "Crazy." "Friday (Shut the Club Down)," produced by Kwame, borrows part of its natural groove from the classic Temptations' cut "My Girl." However, it's void of the passion initially evoked by the legendary sample. Raheem takes his greatest risks on "Energy" (featuring OutKast's very own Big Boi) and "Friday (Shut the Club Down)," and, not surprisingly, that's where he provides the most satisfaction.

Raheem DeVaughn is one of the most talented R&B singer-songwriters around today, but his complacency as an "R&B-hippie-neosoul-rockstar" seems to at times stifle his creativity. Fortunately, it doesn't block his blessings in their entirety. Love Behind the Melody is just part of a journey by this modern-day Marvin Gaye. Raheem's trials and tribulations will soon offer up more variety in his sound. Love has opened the door of stimulating opportunity on his sophomore effort Love Behind the Melody. Let's hope the third time is a charm.

By Akim Bryant

 
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