I don’t want to break any more hearts, but... despite my writing a column dedicated to the local hip-hop scene, hip-hop is not my favorite genre. I listen to a lot of hip-hop and rap, yes, but nothing tickles my fancy quite like some smooth R&B, rough R&B, or anything resembling soul music. Whether it’s ’90s or contemporary R&B, alt-R&B, indie R&B, neo-soul, or the poorly named PBR&B, it’s more than likely I’ll at least mildly enjoy it.
Lucky for me, Portland’s R&B scene has been blossoming beautifully over the past few years: Soul’d Out Music Festival lineups continue to impress, Tyus keeps releasing quality stuff via Warner Bros. (including his newish EP Phases), and then of course there’s Blossom, whose artistic growth has been a joy to watch. Though unfortunately our local Queen B isn’t playing a show on V-day this year, Blossom recently announced that she’s partnering with No Vacancy Lounge, where she’ll live out her longtime dream of being a resident jazz singer.
Anything falling under the giant R&B umbrella is the perfect soundtrack for Valentine’s Day, whether you’re cuffed or flying solo. Sultry soul can certainly enhance you and your partner’s sexy time, or if you’re super single (like me), you can instead go on a date with yourself and develop a harmless crush on an R&B singer. Here are three ways to include R&B in your Valentine’s Day plans.
Born Reginald Lamar Williams (and FKA Reggie Williams), R.LUM.R has become increasingly famous for his stellar falsetto, as showcased on his insanely popular single “Frustrated,” which has now exceeded 31 million streams on Spotify. The song’s lyrics aren’t even about a love interest (Williams actually wrote it to himself as he struggled with a decision to move from Orlando to Nashville to pursue music), but he sings it with such passion that you’d never be able to guess. Other highlights include 2016’s longing “Tell Me,” and the ultra-moody “Nothing New.” Though he’s widely considered an R&B artist, Williams cites Linkin Park, Elliott Smith, John Mayer, and Fleet Foxes as some of his biggest influences. Here’s hoping the Nashville up-and-comer brings out his guitar for some of his set. Wed Feb 14 at Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, w/Gibbz
Portland soul songstress Reva DeVito is one of the town’s shiniest rising R&B stars. For the last several years DeVito’s put out a bunch of cool ’90s-flavored urban pop and R&B—please see “The Move” (produced by KAYTRANADA), 2016’s “Babe Squad,” and 2013’s “Sweetest Taboo.” Last year, DeVito and Los Angeles producer B. Bravo teamed to become Umii, and released an eight-track, aqua-themed album called This Time. It’s a real treat, with funk-infused joints like “Dangerous” and the addictive “Masquerade.” The idea of surrendering to DeVito’s sultry vocals for a night sounds like the best option. Wed Feb 14 at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, w/Drama Duo, DJ Fritzwa