Photographer: Keith Major.
Arranger: Teedra Moses.
It probably wasn't by design that Teedra Moses released her second proper album -- this one -- over a decade after Complex Simplicity. Unlike D'Angelo and Bilal, fellow beloved R&B artists whose first and second albums were released after similarly protracted gaps, Moses was able to placate her cult audience with scattered singles, mixtapes, and an EP. The singer, songwriter, and arranger also kept it guessing with ever-changing album plans and by aligning with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group. Revised titles and projected release dates ceased in August 2015, once R&B haven Shanachie issued Cognac & Conversation. As on the novel Complex Simplicity, Moses projects sweet vulnerability and streetwise swagger in a way, with minimal exertion, that recalls Teena Marie. Moses' mix of classic and contemporary is correspondingly kept with help from a deep roster of producers. It should hit the spot for listeners who dig commercial R&B sounds and relate to some of the content but not the juvenile manner in which certain sentiments are expressed. Likewise, Moses' hooks often sound nice on the first listen and brilliant by the tenth, and with the lightest of touches, she can switch from cutting a man down to size (as on "International Playboi") to making him feel like royalty ("Skin Diver"). Apart from a handful of interludes Moses handled herself, not one of the collaborators -- including Bink, Trackademics, Thaddeus Dixon, and Dwayne "DW" Wright -- is connected to more than two tracks. Despite that, this set of songs does not seem hastily snapped together. Just as crucial, the guests don't get in the way and just happen to appear on four of the high-quality cuts. Ross neither outshines nor weighs down two of them: the springy "All I Ever Wanted," likely to bring Dynasty and/or Camp Lo to mind, and the title track, which enters like a slow-building club anthem but instead settles into a cunning slow jam. 3D Na'Tee strengthens the plush "Only U," the album's closest equivalent to the debut's "Rescue Me," while Anthony Hamilton is on the dazzling "That One," a contender for duet of 2015. Here's hoping Moses' third album lands earlier than 2026. ~ Andy Kellman