MUSIC: OLD SMOOTHY

D'ANGELO BRINGS THE POP-SOUL SOUNDS OF THE '70S UP TO DATE

Do we really want to go back to the '70s? To gas shortages and Watergate, to blaxploitation movies and big lapels, to Charlie's Angels and the Ford Administration? Not really. What makes soul singer-producer-instrumentalist D'Angelo's new album, Brown Sugar, so winning is that he doesn't so much take the listener back to the '70s as update the musical spirit of that time for '90s listeners. His songs have the seductive textures of the R.-and-B. hits of the '70s, evoking Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers, but D'Angelo's style is spare and restrained. Aesthetically, there are no big lapels here.

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