Marsha Ambrosius, “Friends & Lovers” (RCA)
On her second album, this Liverpool-to-Philly vocalist/composer known for co-penning Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies” is in a romantic, emotional, erotic vein recalling R&B great Millie Jackson —without the raunch. If Jackson is a hot trumpet, Ambrosius is a subtle tenor sax that can blare at a moment’s notice. She paints a sumptuous scene for romance. The aching chord changes and quiet-storming whoosh of “Cupid (Shot Me Straight Through My Heart)” and the Teena Marie-like “La La La La La” signal that Ambrosius is up for a good, ruminative chat about loss and love. When Ambrosius pitches woo with her husky voice and poetic but explicit lyrics, the slow jams reveal a singer as emphatic as she is vulnerable. An eerie, sensual mash-up revolving around a Sade hit (retitled “Stronger”), a steamy duet with gruff Charlie Wilson, and several sexed-up interludes help make this disc a marvel of modern carnal soul.
A.D. AMOROSI, Philadelphia Inquirer
On “V,” the Swedish duo JJ spins more ethereal and often mesmerizing art-pop. Streaming at npr.org. http://tinyurl.com/mlv54bc