Audio Mixer: Jaycen Joshua.
Recording information: Wisdom Palace Studios.
Photographer: James Dimmock.
When Jaheim announced his first album in three years, which followed five straight Top Five R&B albums, he said, "I decided to call the project Appreciation Day because that's exactly what this album is.my show of appreciation to them." He was speaking about his fans, but the album's title track refers to women -- more specifically, a specific part of female anatomy that he likens to a breakfast pastry. He projects like a gospel sermon: "For the feel of it, the scent of it, the taste, I lit a candle on top of the case." Jaheim's boldness is at an all-time high, but there's a lot of relatively -- relatively -- tame romantic matter, such as the Shirley Murdock-sampling "Morning" and the apologetic "Baby X3." "Age Ain't a Factor" is a woman-honoring highlight, but Jaheim can't help but sneak in some humor ("Ladies, it's Thanksgiving, and I'm about to eat that stuffing") and deliver it like it's an ordinary line. The lover-man talk and man-to-man relationship advice, as conversational and relatable as ever, is temporarily cast aside for "Florida," a ballad regarding race and the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. It's limiting to refer to the song as Jaheim's most powerful work. It's something more than a performance, what with probing like "Tell me, why don't you love your black babies the same?" capped by stunning Ronald Isley-like runs. Despite the involvement of over a dozen co-producers, Appreciation Day provides another well-balanced mix of contemporary and old-school sounds. It's a Jaheim album in every respect -- precisely what his fans expected from him in 2013. ~ Andy Kellman