Robin Thicke - Paula

By Rathan Paul Harshavardan

Released Monday June 30th, 2014 - UMusic

Paula, entirely written and produced by Robin Thicke is the seventh studio album by the R&B crooner from Star Trak / Interscope and landed in stores on June 30. The album meant for ex-wife Paula Patton, may not be his best especially after Blurred Lines. Thicke's sales also are not really encouraging, but that should not deter you from listening to the few tracks that are actually good.

A celebrity break-up is always a nasty affair, both for the couple involved and the people whose eyes follow their every move. Thicke, who had the best year of his life in 2013, found 2014 a personal roller coaster. Ever since rumours of his amorous affairs rose in the media, the marriage strained and eventually the pair announced an amicable divorce in February.

As a singer trying to mend the pieces of his broken marriage, Thicke took his efforts to get back with Paula to the studio, and so released Paula. The album, a heavily one-sided, guilt-laced, RnB effort may not translate into huge sales, but definitely has some good music that you can't afford to turn a deaf ear to.

Marvin Gaye and Adele, two particularly good musicians have taken heartbreak to the next level with their records. The anonymity and timing made their efforts timeless classics. Thicke is no Gaye or Adele. His effort is rushed, forced and haphazardly put together, as if, cashing in on the negative publicity was the best thing to do, with the music taking a backseat.

Like #AskThicke, Robin's misfired promotional effort on Twitter, the album definitely has misfires in its tracklist too. Skip most of the music but make sure you at least check out, You're My Fantasy. The first track is like a Hawaiian themed welcome to the guilt trip that has a few good sights on the way. Thicke, like Justin Timberlake uses his crooning and falsetto voice to the best of his ability on this particular album opener.

Still Madly Crazy, is one of the few tracks I would suggest purchasing off iTunes instead of the whole album, apart from the others I would suggest later. The piano laced ballad reminds you of why Thicke is a good singer, no Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra by any way, but a decent one at it.
Thicke imitates James Brown on Living In New York City, only making the vocals sound like shenanigans, instead of a tribute to the legend. Love Can Grow Back, is a slow jazz track that has sex written all over it. Admittedly this track grew on me, calling to mind the orchestrations Etta James used on her songs, and is promisingly another track you should have off this album.

Black Tar Cloud. I am not sure what it was, but the Bollywood themed beats or the honesty on the track got me hooked on to it. For fans of the colourful Oriental musical heritage that India has to offer, Black Tar Cloud is a must have by Thicke standards. Too Little Too Late, is another must have. It brings 80s disco to life and I expect this track to get some airplay to do it justice.

Something Bad and Tippy Toes sound like rejects from a Broadway play, and this is where Robin sounds like a show-off. The songs just don't do him any justice and in all honesty should have never been on the album.Time of Your Life, sounds like Thicke is imitating Tony Bennett and Michael Bublé, and comes off like a singer at a talent show doing imitations rather than someone covering a popular tune with their own unique spin.

Overall Paula is neither cringe-worthy nor that musically wonderful. I sympathise with Thicke. Everyone makes a mistake and deserves a second chance, but it's best when you don't air the dirty laundry. Thicke, who wrote and produced all the songs plays it out like a story. We all want to hear either both sides of Robin's story, or at least some of it. Honestly, most of us just don't want to hear any of it. The negative buzz around Thicke should not let you skip the few good songs off Paula, although just getting the few nice ones should save you the trouble of listening to the album.