Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Soul and R&B Albums



6. Jessy Lanza
Pull My Hair Back
(Hyperdub)

It's been a funny year for R&B records. On one hand, there are a handful of singers who have chosen a dark alcove in which to voice their introspective tales over moody soundscapes. On the other, there are some who have opted for the lighter hearted influences of '90s soul and house tunes. In the middle stands Jessy Lanza and her stellar debut, Pull My Hair Back. Each track captures the sways and swings of '90s and modern R&B with sharp, sometimes-moody sounding synths that complement, but never overpower, her soft voice.

In the stretch of a half hour, Lanza bounces through the glittery "Kathy Lee" before dialing down the tempo with the rolling wave of tip-toeing keys on the soulful quasi-ballad "Strange Emotion." The album's strength lies in Lanza and co-producer Jeremy Greenspan's ability to compress a collage of different sounds and make them sound wholly their own. Without much strain you can hear Greenspan's electronic influence in the warbling synths that move in tandem with Lanza's voice.

Through and through, Lanza's sonic charm struts up and down Pull My Hair Back's lean-sounding runway with poise, making for one of 2013's best groove albums. (Jabbari Weekes)