“Robin Thicke is a brotha.” That was a timeline post last week from one of my Facebook friends – who happens to be African-American –and in many ways, it effectively pinpoints the artistic and career merits of Canadian actor Alan Thicke’s son. Known as much for his marriage to stunning actress Paula Patton, Robin Thicke has found a rabid fanbase for his brand of R&B, in the vein of DeBarge, Jon B, and Justin Timberlake. Thicke’s versatility and progression from his signature 2006 hit “Lost Without U” is showcased throughout Blurred Lines, the new album featuring the Pharrell-produced title track.
The album’s title can be interpreted as a triple entendre, referring simultaneously to Thicke’s race, album theme and the music itself. The balance is impeccable, as the 10-track Blurred Lines includes a mix of dance floor-ready tracks as well as the slower, soulful numbers that are Thicke’s comfort-zone repertoire. While “Blurred Lines” is by far the most pop-sounding track, Timbaland-produced “Take It Easy On Me” runs a close second, featuring a spacy, funky groove with familiar Timbaland adlibs. Thicke then switches it up with the retro “Ooo La La,” which finds him singing in an El DeBarge-esque falsetto. The song was produced by Thicke and his longtime collaborator ProJay, who can be found throughout the album’s credits, effectively explaining the chemistry and cohesiveness of the project.
Summertime BBQs and picnics will be well served by “Ain’t No Hat For That” while “Get In My Way” is harmonized like a gospel song, complete with the uplifting message that’s right up Kirk Franklin’s alley. In an odd twist of track sequencing, however, “Get In My Way” is immediately followed by the hedonistic “Give It To U,” which bears a futuristic, techno sound courtesy of Dr. Luke and Cirkut production and a featured verse from rapper Kendrick Lamar, whose quick-tongued delivery adds a great touch.
The pulsating techno sound forms the basis of will.i.am-produced “Feel Good” but then Thicke effortlessly returns to mellow R&B with “For the Rest of My Life.” The jazzy, mid-tempo “Top of the World” paves the way for a powerful closer in “The Good Life,” on which Thicke’s voice takes center stage in its full glory. The timbre in his vocals creates a dimension of soulfulness that simply isn’t found elsewhere.
With Blurred Lines – unbelievably, his sixth album – Robin Thicke’s career reaches a zenith. From his dizzying display of vocal versatility to mastery of different tempos, Thicke expands on his already formidable catalogue. Having been unofficially inducted as brotha, it’s safe to say the blue-eyed R&B man has found his lane and is cruising in it comfortably.