Album Review | R&B

Elijah Blake, ‘Diamonds & Shadows’

After penning hits for numerous stars including Rihanna and Usher (the terrific “Climax”), Elijah Blake arrives on his major-label debut filled with promise, flashing a flawless falsetto and a keen sense of melody. Throughout, the 24-year-old comes across as a smooth charmer, still raw around the edges but in command of his craft. Blake hardly colors outside the lines of contemporary R&B, yet never resorts to formula; he is served well by an array of producers including No I.D., who keep the focus on Blake’s supple vocals while providing slippery beats (dazzling “Live Till We Die”). “Drop Dead Beautiful,” featuring an adept sample and lucid guitarwork, makes for superior modern pop, and the swooping ballad “Angel Dust” has undeniable power. The singer-songwriter has some living to do, as his concerns range from schmaltzy romance (“Armageddon”) to cheating to make-up sex and more cheating. “I Just Wanna. . . ” with Dej Loaf merely indulges in mundane juvenilia. There’s plenty to like here — oh, that voice — but Blake is obviously still growing into his talents. (Out Tuesday)

Ken Capobianco

ESSENTIAL “Drop Dead Beautiful”


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