Case carries the banner of the sensitive male singer proudly on his third full-length set.

Case carries the banner of the sensitive male singer proudly on his third full-length set. Unlike many of his bump'n'grind contemporaries, the New York native is known more for lush, emotional ballads. On Open Letter, Case doesn't deviate much from this sound, which turned earlier tracks like "Happily Ever After" (from 1999's Personal Conversation) into success stories. "Missing You," the album's first single, combines tight Tim & Bob production with well-written love-lost lyrics. Equally impressive are midtempo tunes like "Love of My Life" and "Crooked Letter." The Stevie Wonder-inflected "Shine" finds Case realizing his true vocal potential. The same goes for "A Song for Skye," a musical dedication to his newborn daughter. But for all his soul searching, Case can still get tawdry, as evidenced on the sensuous "Sex Games."—RH