All blown-up post-Grammy upset, feather-piped singer/bassist Esperanza Spalding looks to recruit mainstream listeners with her vibrant third album.
She comes close (the uplifting “Black Gold”), with hip- hop jazzman Q-Tip contributing production and MJ’s “I Can’t Help It” receiving a saxophone-accented facelift. Yet while Radio is better suited for wine-and-cheese soirees, Estelle’s sophomore LP is strictly for lovers. The London songbird plucks funky, upbeat tracks to upgrade her honeyed vocals. Amidst been- there-before odes (the Sade-channeling “Thank You”), scarce raps keep general audiences cheering. — John Kennedy