Newcomer Raheem DeVaughn is the future. Imagine a soul singer who possesses the vocal sensibilities of both Lyfe (Jennings) and the missing DeAngelo, combined with the emotional expression of Marvin Gaye. Then give him the songwriting ability of Raphael Saadiq and Musiq Soulchild, with a dash of Prince thrown in for good measure. Now take note: he has all of these components, but he is no one else but himself; a soulful balladeer whose music is more of an experience and a journey than just something good to listen to.
DeVaughn’s album The Love Experience is old school soul. It is a journey filled with tales of love in all its various forms: the love of family, of friendship, of a man and a woman, and of life. And DeVaughn explores the sides to each one—the glorious, the wonderful, the dirty, and the hurtful—with equal sincerity and depth.
Exploring a sidetrack of what is considered typical love, “Cadillac” hits you off with its early 70’s, Sly and The Family Stone vibe; wailing guitar and soothing bass highlighting a tale of lust and hitchhiking. The title track, on the other hand, is a smooth, infectious groove that brings to mind S.O.S. Band/ Earth, Wind & Fire, highlighting DeVaughn’s silky vocals and setting the tone of the album. And then “Catch 22” and “Where I Stand” explore the human condition in a way that is both entertaining and introspective.
Without the current spate of X-rated ideas, …Experience allows the listener to fully enjoy this journey of music, evoking feelings of belonging rather than beer commercial fantasy. The sincerity and vibrancy of the singer only enhances the trip.
“Green Leaves” is a sign of the future. With DeVaughn singing “keep on growing…like green leaves”, allowing for the hope that this artist will be around for a long time, growing and bringing you new wonderful projects that you’ve just got to have. An exciting voice in a rather stagnant music landscape, DeVaughn’s Experience is a concept album like that of Lyfe’s, only with a slightly more upbeat pair of glasses. Not just speaking from example, he is looking at the world at large and asking each of us to take responsibility for building something better. Hopefully, his voice will be heard.
Until then, catch a ride on the love experience, you won’t be disappointed.