Armed with a smooth falsetto, high-profile guest appearances, and the support of Pharrell, Robin Thicke (son of sitcom star Alan Thicke) seems poised for superstardom with the release of The Evolution of Robin Thicke. The comparisons to Justin Timberlake are inevitable because of their similar vocal styles, Thicke’s sound is actually much more soulful. The Evolution of Robin Thicke, his second, is a solid R&B album rooted in classic soul and mature songwriting.
From the sound of it, it’s clear Thicke isn’t interested in making dance pop. This is real soul music for the grown and sexy. Opener “Got to Be Down” establishes the throwback soul vibe with a classy appearance from Faith Evans. The chunky groove and smooth vocals are reminiscent of ’70s soul legends, and this sound is consistently replicated throughout the album. The beautiful “Lost Without U” is one of the best tracks of the year, with elegant acoustic-guitar-driven production and an assured vocal performance. Thicke has an excellent voice that works better with soft ballads and mid-tempo love jams than with dance numbers. The album focuses on these strengths, and even the few Pharrell and Lil’ Wayne appearances don’t really detract from the album’s overall vibe.
It’s interesting that white artists like Thicke and Timberlake are making such quality soul albums as of late. With The Evolution of Robin Thicke, this talented performer seems to be standing on firm ground with one of the better R&B releases of the year.