Picks and Pans Review: Robin Thicke

updated 10/13/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Something Else

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Is there a more soulful white dude on the planet right now than Robin Thicke? After his sex-you-up single "Lost Without U" spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's R&B chart last year, he's pretty much an honorary brother. He continues to defy color barriers on Something Else, one of the year's best R&B albums. From the opening flourish of strings, he takes you on a plush magic-carpet ride back to the golden age of '70s soul, whether it's the Sound of Philadelphia or the sound of Superfly.

"The Sweetest Love," the cream of the creamy ballads, comes right out of the Stevie Wonder playbook. But it's Marvin Gaye who remains Thicke's biggest influence, from the bedroom fantasies of "Loverman" to the utopian visions of "Dreamworld," in which he imagines a world where "there would be no black or white."

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