Merciful omission of the Chris Brown-assisted "Focus" remix aside, this contains the entirety of Gabi Wilson's first three anonymously presented EPs -- H.E.R., Vol. 1, H.E.R., Vol. 2, and the oddly titled H.E.R., Vol 2: The B Sides -- originally issued during a 13-month period. Roughly similar in quality and makeup, each one of the short-form releases strongly emphasizes Wilson's specialization in vulnerable yet assured ballads and slow jams. On the surface, they verge on low-lit mood music, but deep listening reveals a little more sonic, melodic, and lyrical substance than the average set from Wilson's commercial R&B peers. As a listening experience, these 21 songs therefore are effective more in their original configurations than in this resequenced 72-minute clump. No matter how it's packaged or consumed, there's zero doubt that Wilson and her fellow writers and producers -- most prominently DJ Camper and Swagg R'celious, who take on over half of the co-production credits -- made a large quantity of subtly stimulating contemporary R&B within a short timeframe. Wilson, consistently understated, gracefully wraps her voice around each beat, whether it snakes with trap-style percussion or surges and stammers like a late-'90s Timbaland track stuck in honey. With only slight variations in her voice, she evokes states ranging from vexation to desire, and there's never any uncertainty in what is being put across. It all sounds like the work of a savvy veteran.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo