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Gerald Levert

In My Songs (Atlantic)

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He had millions of adoring fans, but our very own Gerald Levert was never truly appreciated. That's a sad thing to say about a singer who recently died at age 40, but Levert's final album is a profoundly sad document -- and not just because his heartbroken father, O'Jays vocalist Eddie Levert, provides the introduction. The man known simply as "G" didn't receive his musical due because he and collaborator Edwin Nicholas refused to chase urban music trends. Instead, they created a body of work short on flash, but filled with solid, classic-sounding R&B, with Le-vert's teddy-bear vocals seldom beyond earshot of the bedroom.

That streak continues on In My Songs, as understated as any Levert album (the occasional uptempo jam like "DJ Don't" notwithstanding) and equally satisfying. It's also bittersweet, since one of soul's finest modern love men finally reveals his secret loneliness. That Levert did so on one of his best-ever tunes -- the title track, in which he pines for "the love I sing about" -- should touch anyone who has a heart.

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