Photo by Eli Hendler

Atlanta-based R&B singer-songwriter Lloyd recently celebrated the release his first full-length studio album in seven years, a feature-heavy LP called “Tru.” The record expands upon the material Lloyd released as “Tru-EP” in 2016.

With the album, Lloyd embraces an analogue sound which is relatively uncommon in the world of contemporary R&B, bringing a new raw feeling to his music. He shies away from vocal aids like autotune, opting for a more natural vocal style which is refreshing in a genre saturated with similar sounding autotuned voices.

Seven of the 11 tracks on the album have features, with the list of guest artists including Lil Wayne and Rick Ross. While the album may seem heavy on features, this is not necessarily a knock against the quality of Lloyd’s musical abilities as it might be for a true hip-hop artist; it is not uncommon for R&B singers to bring in a large number of features, as they typically do not do very much rapping themselves.

Lloyd does not let his guests hijack the album. Rather than defining the sound of the LP, the features support Lloyd’s singing and complement his sound. The overall style of the record is still very much defined by Lloyd’s smooth vocals.

Despite the preponderance of high-profile features on the album, the members of the Spellman Women’s Choir actually deliver the most outstanding and complementary performance on the album.

The members of the choir feature on the second to last track of the album, titled “Lil Sis,” and their presence brings a gospel sound to the song and makes it stand out from and break up the stylistic uniformity of the rest of the album. Thanks to the choir, “Lil Sis” does the best job of blending different sounds of any other track on “Tru.”

Lloyd saves his best work for the last track of the album, the titular “Tru.” Lloyd originally released the song as a single in 2016, and the lyrics of the track explain the reasons behind Lloyd’s extended hiatus from making music. Lloyd’s first release since 2011, the track served as an announcement of Lloyd’s return to the music scene after taking a break to deal with the emotional trauma of losing an unborn child.

“Tru” is the most radio-friendly of the tracks on the album, with a fast pace and catchy beat making it an enjoyable song to listen to. That the song was originally released so far in advance of the LP is most likely the only reason that this track is not the first or second on the album.

Most of the songs on the album are enjoyable and catchy, even if they can sometimes fade into the background if the listener does not focus enough on what he is listening to. Beyond being good to listen to, the album achieves the artistic goals which Lloyd set out to accomplish.

In an interview with the Technique, Lloyd emphasized that during his hiatus from making music, he took the time to “reflect on [his] own self.” He explained that his time away from music taught him to recognize and embrace “the beauty in imperfection,” leading him to channel a more natural, analogue sound into his new music.

Lloyd also explained that he has recently taken to listening to older music on vinyl, picking up influences from outside of contemporary-style R&B including names like Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan and Bill Withers.

Listeners may not hear traces of Bob Dylan when they listen to “Tru,” but the album leaves no doubt that Lloyd is starting to evolve his style.

“Tru” is a quality album which combines an enjoyable listening experience with stylistic innovation in a way which is impressive and refreshing in the modern R&B landscape.