The emergence of the female R&B singer-songwriter in recent years has been one of the most encouraging developments in music. From Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill to Angie Stone and Jill Scott, these alternative sisters have updated classic soul stylings with elements of hip-hop, folk, jazz and world beat. Keeping this girl thing going is stunning Houston native Pru (full name: Pru Renfro) with her self-titled debut, a collection of artful, almost poetic ruminations on love.
Though not as idiosyncratically unique as Badu nor as philosophical as Hill, she makes fetching use of her sexy, husky alto here. Pru craftily nods to the past on "Candles" and "What They Gone Do?" which evoke Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears" and Sly & the Family Stone's "Family Affair," respectively. And she even pulls off a funkified remake of Sade's "Smooth Operator." But such breezy mid-tempo confections as "183 Miles," "Can't Compare Your Love" and "Reason Why" suggest that Pru may be ready to leave her own distinctive mark.