Soul music has thrown up few trailblazers in recent years, yet with two albums D’Angelo helped redefine what could be achieved within the genre. Recent years have been blighted with addictions and personal trauma but, with a third LP planned, EMI release this collection of hits and rarities.
The best songs are culled from the albums: 1995’s debut Brown Sugar kick-started neo-soul, its smooth mix of R&B and rap opening the door for the likes of Erykah Badu. From that album the title track and Smooth are highlights; the former built around some sterling Hammond work, while the latter features crisp hip-hop beats, the deepest of double bass lines and sultry vocals.
Recorded live and far more stripped-down, 2000’s Voodoo was a tour de force; a raw, glorious melting pot of styles. The utterly wonderful Untitled (How Does It Feel) features, its mix of pulsating vocals and guitar licks a masterpiece proving how effective guitars can be in soul. Of the rarities, a duet with Erykah on Your Prescious Love are among the better things on offer.
Though not as good as a new album, this isn’t a bad stop gap and a good introduction to why D’Angelo is often compared with the greats.