Funny enough, I have vivid memories of taking my mother’s hard copy of this album to show my 5th grade friends. Before the very messy and very public demise of his marriage to Paula Patton, Robin Thicke possessed a crazy amount of talent (and most likely still does but that’s neither here nor there). This appeal of this album, in my opinion, is how smooth it is. From “Got 2 Be Down” featuring Faith Evans to “Angels,” Thicke has an extremely soulful voice and tons of range that carries over just about any tempo. As I am not in fifth grade any more, I truly appreciate this album for the variety of emotions conveed in each song. “Cocaine” is literally about what you think it is, “Teach U A Lesson is about a sexy classroom fantasy, “Would That Make U Love” pleads about what makes love possible, and “Superman” details love’s heights. The Evolution is just that; it chronicles highs and lows and in-betweens in a really catchy, funky way.
This is another album that immediately takes me back to my childhood. I recall my parents playing it over and over during car trips and even more so through the house. I even took my parents’ copy to play over and over on the handheld CD player (remember those?) that my Dad gave me. Of course everyone knows “Revolution” (woop! woop!) but I also love “You Are” and “Hold Me Now” even more as I’ve grown in my relationship with God. What makes this album unique to me are the little skits about stereotypical church people that are painfully accurate, like “Interlude: The Verdict” and “Interlude: The Car (Stomp).” The older I get, I realize how many songs Kirk Franklin has taken and made appropriate for gospel, or even just revamped with a twist. “Gonna Be a Lovely Day,” a revamp of the Bill Withers song “Lovely Day,” uses some of the same lyrics but gives it an extra twang.
One of one of Stevie’s more underrated albums, Journey is the soundtrack to a 1979 documentary that used time-lapse photography to share how plants come to be. Stevie Wonder is my #1 favorite artist ever, and this album is extremely calming and serene. “Come Back as a Flower” is my favorite and features the melodious voice of Syreeta Wright, Stevie’s former wife. “Send One Your Love” and “Same Old Story” are really soulful classics that are really characteristic of Stevie’s style and are perfectly appropriate for the documentary. This is another album that’s really amazing to play full out and really relaxes my spirit.