Reclusive R&B star D'Angelo is apparently back at work on his decade-plus-in-the-making third album. A studio session took place in New York late last night with two longtime D'Angelo collaborators, Roots drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and bassist Pino Palladino, as well as producer/engineer Russell Elevado, according to posts from Questlove on Twitter.
"Most people use midnight as a time to sleep. others are working on their 11 year followup. this of course being hour number one," wrote the drummer.
The album, which was at one point provisionally titled "James River," is being eyed for release before the end of the year through J Records, according to a source, but could move to early 2012 depending on when it is finally turned in. It will be D'Angelo's long-awaited follow-up to the 2000 album "Voodoo," which won the 2001 Grammy for best R&B album and has sold 1.7 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Questlove and Palladino later backed D'Angelo on an acclaimed tour in support of the album.
The new project has been plagued by long breaks in recording and other delays, and many collaborators have come and gone. Last year, producer Mark Ronson told Billboard.com he was about to hit the studio with D'Angelo, but it is unknown if any of his work will make the final cut. Prince, Raphael Saadiq, John Mayer, Cee Lo Green and Roy Hargrove have also been mentioned as contributors at various times during the process.
Since the release of "Voodoo," D'Angelo has endured a serious car accident and arrests for drug possession and solicitation. In lieu of new music of his own, he's made sporadic guest appearances on albums by Ronson, Common, Snoop Dogg, Q-Tip and the late J Dilla. His last release under his own name was the 2008 Virgin compilation "The Best So Far," which rounds up highlights from "Voodoo" and its 1995 predecessor "Brown Sugar," along with soundtrack contributions.