On the cover for his comeback album TRU, R&B lifer Lloyd is standing completely naked in a forest with an acoustic guitar suggestively resting between his legs. Though this image is provocative, the actual music lacks that unapologetic boldness. TRU is a solid yet predictable comeback that has the tenured singer delving right back into his sensual harmonies and occasionally getting introspective.
The album opens with “Appreciation Day,” a silky, melodic thank you letter from Lloyd to his family, friends, and fans. He touches upon some of his recent issues and revelations like how his best friend getting sentenced to prison lead to him reassessing his own life. Over pleasant guitar strums, Goodie Mob patriarch Khujo Goodie ends the track with a spoken-word verse about blessings. This celestial, introspective vibe doesn’t last for long. “Appreciation Day” is followed by “Blown” — a smooth stoner jam. Especially in 2018, there’s nothing edgy about an artist opening up about their infatuation with marijuana. But “Blown” avoids being cliché with its pretty harmonies and enticingly trippy production. Curren$y’s guest verse rolls off the beat, finishing off a stellar song.
In addition to Khujo and Curren$y, TRU also has an array of Hip Hop’s heavy-hitters. But these guest appearances are a mixed bag. “Holding” is a forgettable slog that isn’t salvaged by Lil Wayne’s snoozy verse, while “Heavenly Bodies” has a lively performance from Rick Ross that adds some much-needed excitement into an otherwise boring song.
Despite a packed roster of guests, Lloyd’s sensuality is the album’s main act. A good number of the songs are about seduction. The lead single “Caramel” has a subtle groove and a sugary, magnetic hook. Lloyd isn’t much of a lyricist but the airiness of his voice rescues lines like “she’s dripping, dripping, dripping like a leaky faucet” from being straight up ridiculous. “Excited” brings back some dated R&B production while showcasing Lloyd’s impressive vocal range. On the other hand, “Infinity” and “Porcelain” are sleepy misfires that blend together.
The album ends on a more introspective note with “Little Sister” and the intense title track. Assisted by The Spelman Women’s Choir, “Little Sister” is a dreamy song dedicated to Lloyd’s sister who passed away at a tragically young age while “TRU” deals with the artist’s own journey with mental health and his hiatus. These records successfully demonstrate the singer’s maturity, artistic growth — and willingness to bare it all on wax.
In a landscape where alternative R&B has become remarkably popular, Lloyd’s more traditionally romantic style may seem dated. But that doesn’t mean his music should be overlooked. Though he’s still singing celestial melodies about making love, TRU is at its best when Lloyd uses his tender vocals to be vulnerable.