Picking through my local Goodwill CD collection has gotten me listening to some R&B lately, which is a little outside of my usual tastes.
I’ve really been enjoying Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor both musically and for evaluating equipment. I find her enjoyable because of the clear Jazz influence, the extensive use of piano and other acoustic instrumentation, songs that actually have some development (I’m not real big on repetitive music) and of course Alicia’s beautiful voice. Songs like The Life seem really good for testing headphones too, as they have a good mix of instrumentation and vocals and include some deep bass beats too. Also, the intro to Piano & I has some highly sibilant vocals, so it’s good for exposing any sibilance in my gear and EQ settings.
Another album I picked up is D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar which is a real classic. I’m not enjoying it as much as Songs in A Minor but it does have some good beats and scratches that primal rhythm itch.
The third R&B (really Neo Soul) album in my current rotation is Joss Stone’s Mind Body & Soul. My wife and I saw her perform years ago at a local music festival and remember really enjoying the performance. The album captures some of that energy and her incredible voice, though acoustically it’s not doing much for me.