Today, Tuesday, September 3, 2013, the long awaited fourth album from Grammy award nominated Raheem Devaughn is being sold at major music retailers and is also available for purchase on iTunes. A Place Called Love Land, featuring his hit singles “Love Connection” and “Ridiculous”, is what fans and critics are proclaiming a return to true R&B, but what does that mean for a genre that has transformed and transcended more than any other?
Rhythm and Blues, the popular term used to define the infusion of jazz, rock, and heavy beats set to songs of the soul, is the core of this album. But why is this album described as the return when R&B albums are released constantly, and R&B “performances” are on your favorite awards shoe? What makes it different? Originality, the only constant characteristic of the genre to date. DeVaughn has managed to make the audience feel nostalgic for that ‘feel good music’ of any listener’s generation. Whether it be Ronald Isley, Chubby Checker, George Duke, Prince, Jodeci, Marvin Gaye, or your favorite crooner, Devaughn emulates the feelings that they evoked, without emulating the sounds of the songs. As Raheem put it, “It was a great time lyrically, it was a great time sonically… I tried to capture that moment in the futuristic sense.” Absent are the beats so close to your favorite seventies song that you think it’s a sample with tongue and cheek lyrics, and present are the metaphors that make you chuckle when you first hear them and then replay the song to see what else you may have missed while Raheem weaves a story of love, such as with “Pink Crush Velvet”, a story that men and women alike will appreciate.
This theory of ‘women versus men’ listeners is another place where A Place Called Love Land makes its return to the roots of rhythm and blues. Lately it seems that rnb singers have been making songs just to appeal to women listeners. Raheem Devaughn takes that polarization away with this album. At the media listening session, there were a couple of songs that elicited a collective eye roll from women while the men all let out their appreciation in one synchronized, yeah, the most notable of which was In The Meantime. These differing views that one song can evoke, is the reason why DeVaughn says he made this album. Raheem said that with this album, he was proving he wasn’t a one hit wonder, but really, it is a challenge to all artist of any genre, get back to the music. When you hear this album he wants you to think “This is the summer I got it in, I fell in love, I conceived my first child, I found my soul mate, or ‘I’m still figuring it out but I got that Raheem DeVaughn’”. Another standout of the album is DeVaughn’s musically complex homage to women, “Maker of Love”, featuring Jazz great Boney James.
After the media listening session at Studio 202 Blis FM, the home of the Raheem Devaughn Radio Show, I had a short chat with Raheem about his album, his hiatus, and other things in store. An endearing man who is authentic in conversation and through his music, this album is not only arguably Raheem’s best work, but one of the few true original R&B albums released in the past 12 months, and one of the few albums that can played from beginning to end in any genre. With A Place Called Love Land, Raheem DeVaughn has re birthed R&B, great interludes and original genre infusions.