BOTTOM LINE Bridging new and old with his own definition of pop
Charlie Puth proves himself to be the real deal with his sophomore album “Voicenotes” (Atlantic).
Sure, it’s hard to argue with his success from “See You Again,” the “Furious 7” tribute to the late Paul Walker that remains the second-most-viewed video of all time. But any questions about whether he could field more pop hits was answered with the string of radio-conquering singles that came before the release of “Voicenotes” — the sleek R&B of “Attention” and the ’80s-drenched “How Long,” which are both included here.
That winning streak should continue with the new, personal single “The Way I Am,” which adds a bit of rock guitar to the mix, and “Done for Me,” where Puth and his falsetto ride a throwback R&B groove until the great Kehlani drops in to shake things up.
His bid for longevity comes, though, in a pair of ballads — “If You Leave Me Now,” a soulful pop collaboration with Boyz II Men, and the folk-tinged call for inclusion “Change,” with James Taylor. Those songs show Puth can build a song for the ages as easily as he can roll out one for right now.