Kevin Michael Kevin Michael

After a seemingly endless period of creative stagnation and lack of direction, the R&B world is finally receiving a much-needed push from a fresh crop of young artists with knowledge of the past and eyes on the future. Baby faced Philly crooner Kevin Michael makes some promising moves on his eponymous debut disc, vibing confidently in a slick falsetto as he lays reaching vocal arrangements over a combination of classic soul, reggae, minimalist hip-hop and a heavy dose of accessible (though, at times, detrimentally over-produced) pop sounds. On lead cut "We All Want The Same Thing,” Michael’s stylised, funky delivery carries the tune when some throwaway lyrics threaten the track, while images of Rick James and Michael Jackson are conjured on songs like "Stone Cold Killa” and in the record’s many mid-tune breakdowns. Lupe Fiasco, Q-Tip and Wyclef (regrettably) each lend a hand, giving weight to a record that, while not exceptional, could definitely have a hand in making commercial radio listenable again. (Atlantic)