Erykah Badu, Mama's Gun (Motown): America's first lady of old-style rhythm and blues turns the clock back still further on her second album, with a backup band providing a warm, earthy, entirely organic jazz sound. The songs on Mama's Gun slip from one to the next effortlessly, coming together as a set of sedate, buttery-smooth grooves. Badu holds the spotlight with her unmistakable vocals and speaks high thoughts through simple sentiments — in the brilliant single "Bag Lady," for example, she uses that image as a metaphor for women suffering under emotional baggage. By the time the record glides to a close some 72 minutes later with the glorious 10-minute triptych "Green Eyes," it's delivered an almost satiating amount of musical sustenance. — Anthony Carew

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