The Bravest Man in the Universe


Soul legend Bobby Womack has always tried to adapt with the times. On his first mainstream effort since the mid-1990s Womack takes another bold step forward, embracing programmed beats and electronic vibes as a new setting for his ageless voice. Co-produced by Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, much of the album is rooted in that act’s sonic territory. But the electronic bent not only spares Womack the indignity of nostalgia, it makes him sound more innovative than most of R&B’s current crop of young guns. Womack invites guest vocalists like Fatoumata Diawara, the late Gil-Scott Heron and polarizing songstress Lana Del Rey, whose vocals on “Dayglo Reflection” have all the feeling that her own recent debut conspicuously lacked. Yet for all of the pomp in the production, it’s the stripped-down track “Deep River,” in which Womack is accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, that best illustrates his power. –AF

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