Let’s face it, folks. R&B has had a pretty shitty year. As I’m compiling my year-end lists, there are a handful of rock albums, some straight up pop, a couple of singer/songwriter pieces, a healthy amount of hip-hop, and more dance music than my slightly-uncomfortable-with-gay-stereotypes self is cool with. But there’s barely any soul music.

Well, folks, apparently the record industry has decided that today is R&B Tuesday, because there’s four or five albums coming out that I’m intensely interested in and probably won’t be disappointed by. Let’s run down the list alphabetically.

While Eric Benet will probably always be best known for screwing around on Halle Berry, he’s built up a pretty impressive catalog. “Lost in Time” is the Milwaukee-bred crooner’s fifth album, and it’s supposed to be a Seventies throwback sound. I think Eric is more than capable of pulling it off, and a list of guest stars ranging from Ledisi to Eddie LeVert and Walter Williams of The O’Jays should help. Another of Eric’s guests is Faith Evans, who’s pulling double duty this week by guesting on El DeBarge’s first release in 16 years, “Second Chance”. El is one of my all-time favorite singers, so needless to say the release of this album has been widely anticipated. Kinda hard to believe that El’s last album, “Heart, Mind & Soul” was released on my 18th birthday, and now I’m…I’m…well, let’s just say I’m not 18 anymore.

After half a century as a rock & soul icon, Ron Isley is FINALLY releasing his first solo album. “Mr. I” is also his first album since doing a bid for tax evasion. A stint in the pokey hasn’t been damaging to that voice, if the material I’ve heard so far is any indication. It’ll take a lot more than a shitty review from All Music to turn me away from this record. Meanwhile, Chrisette Michele’s “Let Freedom Reign” is out today as well. The Def Jam diva’s released two solid albums (the most recent of which debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts), but she’s not yet a household name. I’m not so sure that releasing this album in such a crowded field will help that much. Finally, Missy Elliott protege Jazmine Sullivan will attempt to beat the sophomore jinx with her latest effort, “Love Me Back”.

Let’s go straight from soul to soulless. The week’s most high-profile new release comes courtesy of The Black Eyed Peas. If you’re not already aware of my hatred for this group, then you probably haven’t been following this site very long. The fact that fans support this group of assclowns makes me question the intelligence of the music-buying public. Needless to say, if you purchase Black Eyed Peas music, you deserve what you get.

Elsewhere, the compilation-happy Tim McGraw is releasing yet another hits album, while Bryan Adams is going the indie route with “Bare Bones”, an album of songs recorded on tour. Flo-Rida will try to extend his fifteen minutes with “Only One Flo, Pt.1”, while Soulja Boy brings his brand of mushmouthed junk to the public once more with “The Deandre Way”, an album that is sure to join his other two pieces of garbage in the $1.99 used CD bin two or three years from now.

There’s also yet another “Glee” album coming out. But honestly, I feel like they release one of these things every week! How quick till the stars or the public burn out?

As usual, go over to Pause and Play to sniff out any releases I may have missed and also look for albums that are on the horizon!

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