Every time I start worrying about the state of R&B, someone like Devin Tracy pops up on my radar and makes me feel better about the world. Devin, a Jacksonville, Florida native, is an up-and-coming artist who aims to impress with his debut EP Dear Devin. And impress it does. Produced by production team The Radicals, Dear Devin takes beloved elements of late '90's R&B and builds upon them, creating something unique and refreshing. If you doubt, just check out opening track "Need 2 B" for proof. On it, Devin puts his skills to good use over a sound bed of dreamy keys and backing vocals as he ponders what do with a love that seems to be going nowhere. He approaches the topic again on "Use 2 Be," but this time he mines his jazz background a bit more and enlists the piano skills of Kenny Keys to bring the contemplative song home. Elsewhere, the production veers toward The Neptunes' early days on tracks "In My Head" and "Come Back Again," both of which sound like the best productions Chad and Pharrell never made. But perhaps the most personal song, and one of the more interesting tracks, is "Not 4 Everybody." While it may sound similar to some of the tunes on the radio, it has an emotional depth that resonates and connects far better than the usual Top 40. Dear Devin mines sounds both modern and old school and crafts a sound that is a breath of fresh air for a genre dying of unoriginality. If you wanna be down -- and you do -- stay after the bounce to listen to and download Dear Devin.
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