Souled Out (Deluxe)
Label: Def Jam Recordings
At her best, Jhene Aiko evokes warmly conversational intimacy, but her flat voice can result in an awkward case of "talk singing." And unfortunately, her debut doesn't live up to the promise of her Sail Out EP. Evoking the vague anomie of Drake, she riffs through expletive-laden affairs ("The Pressure"), life's mysteries ("W.A.Y.S.") and, unexpectedly, a duet with her daughter ("Promises"). Her arrangement of keyboard washes, acoustic guitar ("Remember") and piano ("Eternal Sunshine") make for an ambient placidity. Save for her idiosyncratic vocals, she's taking few chances here.