Aloe Blacc is no overnight sensation.
The co-writer and voice behind Avicii's "Wake Me Up," now the most-played song in Spotify history with more than 200 million streams since its release last year, is a 35-year-old former business consultant from California with two other albums to his name.
So why on Earth is his new album "Lift Your Spirit" (Interscope) so stunningly uneven?
Obviously, Blacc can write a hit, following "Wake Me Up's" success with his own smash "The Man," which twists a bit of Elton John's "Your Song" into something soulful and grand. He is clever enough to craft a sleek slice of '60s soul in the lush throwback "Red Velvet Seat" that positions him as a possible heir to Bruno Mars' throne.
Unfortunately, "Lift Your Spirit" also features clunkers that are so bad they're actually shocking. "Here Today" is so lazy it's hard to believe he ever played it in public, much less included it on an album, with its chorus of "We're here today (hey!) gone tomorrow! Lead the way, never follow!" sung blandly over a vague pop backdrop. "Chasing" squanders an interesting mix of glitchy dance beats and '50s bubble gum pop on a chorus of "Girls, girls, girls chasing the boys, boys, boys chasing the money . . . Don't chase the money." Even his personal thanks-giving song, "Owe It All," sounds cobbled together and unbelievable, opening with the immortal question, "Where would I be without the pillow on my bed?"
Blacc has plenty of potential, but he maddeningly wastes a lot of it on "Lift Your Spirit."
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"Lift Your Spirit"
THE GRADE C
BOTTOM LINE A startlingly uneven R&B/pop effort.