September 22, 2023

It seems that all one has to do in R&B is maintain the status quo and the fans will open their hearts. Critics might yearn for innovation, but as song after song parades by in a blurring montage of predictability, it would appear that simply coloring within the lines is what the public wants. Into this stagnant realm walks J.Lamaar with his 6 track solo effort, “In The Clouds”. Arguments will now be heard about how an independent record from an otherwise, as yet relatively unknown U.S. Army Veteran, differs from a hyped-up record from a major label artist. Well, for starters the Fort Hood (TX) born, and High Point (NC) raised artist can sing, write, and work the emotional heart out of the songs on this recording. We’re talking about getting the job done right, within the confines of pure, smooth and classic R&B, as it was originally meant to be. J.Lamaar does that, with an appealing tone and love-man swagger.

J.Lamaar benefits from his mastery of the basics of songwriting. The tracks on “In The Clouds” feature solid lyricism and storytelling anchored by a voice that can go from innocent reflections, to deep introspection, and romantic eroticism. His songs are crafted to appeal to any generation.

Collectively, the EP is set to stake J.Lamaar’s position in R&B. He stays true to the genre’s fan-base, giving them classic sounding tracks, and packs the same rich vocals as his illustrious peers. However, while those may seem like the high points, there are even higher ones.

As soon as the beautiful opening track, “Colors”, sets in, you become aware of the focus on detail, as well as the exquisite arrangements and instrumentals which form the foundation for J.Lamaar’s songs. It’s an innovative, or rather, renovative affair.

In a time where so many R&B artists have gone electro, pop and hip-hop, J.Lamaar stays true to the genre’s roots and ultimately benefits from doing so. The confirmation comes in the silky mellifluous shine of “Care For Me”. J.Lamaar slides in and out his sleek falsetto, to a slow heart-throbbing beat and a shimmering guitar accompaniment.

He steps up the pace and edgy intensity on “Myself”. Soulful, yet characterized by J.Lamaar’s urban rhythmic lyrics, the pieces all fit together neatly. “P.T.S.D” gives J.Lamaar a worthwhile adult contemporary mid-tempo track that is lush and well sung, while affronting a serious theme.

The backing vocals further accentuate his soulful, smooth lead. “Tell Me” brilliantly provides a perfect soulful backdrop for J.Lamaar to paint the heartbreak love ballad, with his nuanced vocals.  Throw in those pure, urban sounding supporting vocals, and the singer-songwriter is on autopilot.

“Been on the grind just to get this pay, so I can spoil you in so many ways. Roll it up for a real one. Light it up for a real one. You know I love the way you roll my J’s,” seems like a sound inspiration to put you in a chill mood during “Real One”.

As always, J.Lamaar sounds superb, while the solid, sophisticated cut embraces trendy contemporary R&B.  As a song itself, it features incredibly nuanced and personality-laden vocals from the artist, and instrumentally, it’s incredibly easily to slip into its groove. The restrained palette leaves plenty of room for J.Lamaar warm pipes to shine.

Overall, “In The Clouds” is a consistent, well-conceived recording.  It changes the current R&B formula to back to a more classic sound, and for most of the genre’s dedicated fans, this is an absolute pro. It’s a quality R&B recording, and maybe most importantly, is that it is a true R&B recording in itself.


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