Hip-hopper Tonex returns after a sadly neglected 2000 debut, this time seemingly a new man in both heart and song.

Hip-hopper Tonex returns after a sadly neglected 2000 debut, this time seemingly a new man in both heart and song. Though punchy, rhythm-heavy tracks still get their due ("Bout a Thang" is as irrepressible as a dance track gets), pop-inflected, radio-ready hooks abound, and the one-time rapper shows a master's touch with the album's ample selection of midtempo tunes and heart-tugging ballads. The majority of the songs are written by Tonex, and his range as a writer has grown exponentially. He soars on "God Has Not 4got," which rides a crystalline acoustic guitar accompanied by a very cool, old-school B3 organ, percussion, and a warm vocal ensemble. "Seasons" is a joyous, jazzy adult contemporary-hued R&B track, while "You" is a gorgeous love song to the artist's wife. The set's 17 songs alone are worth making some noise about, but even more exciting is hearing a young artist come into his own.—GE

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