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The Boston Globe

Music

Album Review | POP

Yuna, ‘Nocturnal’

Yuna’s followup to her acclaimed 2012 debut finds the Malaysian singer-songwriter honing her pop instincts by coloring in her sound without diluting her unadorned charm. The 26-year-old is a seductive vocalist who makes up for the lack of depth in her voice with plenty of radiance and grace. Here, she smartly fleshes out her acoustic soul while moving toward dance territory reminiscent of singers like Jessie Ware. “Falling” is an ingratiating groove while the intricately rhythmic “Rescue” deftly incorporates xylophone for a uniquely infectious confection. Yuna delves into the tricky contradictions of relationships throughout the 11-song set. Her lyrics have gauzy tendencies but the lack of specificity is offset by the vulnerability in her lovely voice. “Someone Who Can,” produced by the Neptunes’ Chad Hugo with pop savvy, finds her refusing to cower to an unreliable lover and the defiance suits her well. This is a rare pop record that dares to find its beauty in simplicity. (Out now)

ESSENTIAL “Someone Who Can”

Ken Capobianco can be reached at franznine@live.com.

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