We’re reaching back to last year to bring you this one because it deserves more attention than its been getting.

Just a month shy of three years since he delivered the extremely sexy The Slow Tape, Rico hit us with the full version of the album that he had been teasing us about for close to eighteen months

If there was one thing that kind of surprised us (but shouldn’t after we heard the previous singles) was just how different this album is from his first.  He is still very much in his R&B lane and there are some sexy tracks in this set, but he went much more in the neo-soul direction that time around.  We have to say that this was a good decision because, as much as we like his first album, this is the one that we’ve found ourselves going back to far more often.

The main reason for that is Rico’s voice.  We didn’t realize before this just how versatile his tone could be.  We’d gotten little tastes of it before with his one-off singles, but having it all in one place really shows you the talent he has.  There are moments, like on tracks like Vanish, where his vocals are drenched in autotune, but his natural tone still manages to come through loud and clear.  There are bright and happy songs like Come My Way where he comes across enthusiastic and carefree…only for his to switch it up for a track like Don’t Talk To Me and bring in the depressed mumble tones.  He always manages to stay front and center and the sound of his vocals keeps you engaged no matter what the style of the track.  We had no idea that we had this in him but we’re glad to see it.

The production is cohesive enough for the songs to work in sequence, but there is enough variation that everything doesn’t flow together.  The instrumentation seems to focus on live instruments (although we are sure there is some synth going on for the benefit of studio recording), which gives you a taste of what this could be live.  Several of the songs have a kind of Raphael Saddiq quality to them thanks to the plunky guitars and hard, even drums that can occasionally take focus off the melody.

Unfortunately, we’ll probably never get translations for this because it’s not popular enough to make the radar of our favorite translation sites. We do, however, understand certain segments enough to know that he deviated hard from the sex-drenched lyrics of his first project in favor of themes centering more around the lead up to and the beginning of love.  It’s an interesting decision to make given how we were introduced to him, but it does make you wonder if the theme of his first album was more him paying homage to the artists whom he’s covered in his mixtape days and doing what he had become more comfortable with.  The lyrics in this set (and the project in total) seems like someone playing with their boundaries and finding themselves.

While this probably isn’t the album for people who need faster paced bops to soothe their souls, this is something that fans of strong vocals and more adult R&B are going to love.

Our favorite tracks are Vanish, Come My Way, Paradise, and Everything.  The most skippable tracks are Pistol Bae and Like This (Remix).