Eric Benét, "Lost in Time"
Paying homage to the past can be a tricky proposition. Do you risk losing your contemporary footing? Is there still a market for feel-good R&B? Eric Benét skillfully maneuvers the balancing act and delivers a strong set in the process with this spirited nod to the '70s soul/funk that has influenced his career. Recorded with live musicians, "Lost in Time" takes its tone from the lush hit ballad "Sometimes I Cry." Accented by a Benét falsetto reminiscent of such high-toned tenors as Smokey Robinson, the emotional song elicited an early shout-out from a then-jailed Lil Wayne, who called the track one of his favorite jams. Another album cornerstone is "Always a Reason," whose lilting melody recalls '70s group Blue Magic. On the breezy "Feel Good," Faith Evans reminds fans of the duo's memorable 1999 pairing on Toto's "Georgy Porgy." Another inspired partnership comes into play on the midtempo "Take It," heightened by the sexy banter between Benét and Chrisette Michele. Taking a 180-degree turn, Benét pairs his crooner-smooth vocals with the soulful grit of O'Jays legend Eddie Levert on "Paid." Here's to bringing back feel-good R&B.