WASHINGTON - Squeals, moans and pumping fists fill the packed club, but onstage the R&B sensation of the season is calm, almost lounging on his piano stool. Yet when D'Angelo begins his current chart-climber, Cruisin', his flawless falsetto pulses with energy.
If the original - Smokey Robinson's 1979 hit - was an innocent call to back-seat cuddling, D'Angelo's version invites his already-seduced partner back for more. No old-school rehasher, he's drawn to the lush romance, rhythmic grooves and stellar singing of classic soul, fortified by his gospel roots and freshened by his fondness for hip-hop and jazz.
That's not all that's different about this rising star. At 21, he's a one-man wonder. Inspired by the path Prince took 15 years ago, D'Angelo made his self-produced debut album, Brown Sugar, almost singlehandedly: writing its other nine songs, singing a choirful of intricate vocal lines and playing most of the music, an anomaly in the team-effort hits that dominate current R&B.
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