Our first compilation of new R&B releases this year is led by Pharrell Williams' G I R L, a funk-pop album that has earned good reviews and, more importantly, included "Happy," the first No. 1 song by a black artist in over a year. Aloe Blacc's first album in nearly four years is a pop-leaning affair as well. But Lift Your Spirit has been less warmly received by some longtime fans that miss the rootsy soul he exhibited so effortlessly on Good Things. Toni Braxton & Babyface's Love, Marriage & Divorce has gotten mixed reviews, too, but the duo deserves credit for presenting an ambitious if uneven concept album. And Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' [Give the People What They Want] finds them in the pocket as usual, although our impressions may be skewed by the coverage surrounding Ms. Jones' struggle with cancer. Meanwhile, the jury's still out on August Alsina's Testimony and Jason Derulo's Talk Dirty, both of which dropped this week. Check out all 20 albums for yourself, and don't overlook newcomers SZA, Daley, Young & Sick and Gene Noble.
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