The sweet singing soulman’s fifth disc updates his sound as he adds more dance-oriented pop to augment his superbly arranged and executed love songs. Ne-Yo has specialized in telling three-minute stories that cut deeper than most disposable contemporary R&B, and it continues here. “R.E.D” (Realizing Every Dream) is smart, sophisticated, and built around songs. There are a few attempts at crossover success, including the hip-hop tinged “Don’t Make ’Em Like You,” with a lame cameo from Wiz Khalifa. “She Is,” an acoustic ballad with Tim McGraw, is unadulterated pop. He ventures into electronic dance-lite multiple times, including two StarGate produced tracks, and “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself),” co-penned by Sia, is a deftly conceived confection. The disc opens with a fine “Cracks in Mr. Perfect,” concerning the perils of success, but it feels like an orphan on a set preoccupied with relationships. Ultimately, it’s the love songs that make the biggest impression on this nicely balanced disc. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)"