When ruminating about contemporary R&B, Chuck D’s statement from “Caught, Can We Get a Witness?” comes to mind: “You singers are spineless/As you sing your senseless songs to the mindless/Your general subject love is minimal/It’s sex for profit.” Since the song’s release in 1988, little has changed. The genre’s inability to deal with anything other than love affairs wouldn’t be a problem if today’s crooners offered the emotional depth of Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye. But contemporary R&B is little more than adolescent sexual fantasies wrapped in a cloak of love ballads that simply say, “I wanna screw you really bad.” Every once in a while, though, someone a little different comes along. Faith Evans is no Aretha, but unlike many vocally and emotionally challenged entertainers—such as her labelmates Total—Evans doesn’t give you graphic details about every man she’s ever been with. Instead she sensually rides the surf of emotion on songs like the heartbreaking “You Used to Love Me” and the comforting “Soon as I Get Home.” Although Evans’ new album, Keep the Faith, doesn’t fully demonstrate her artistry, the disc’s first two singles, “Love Like This” and “All Night Long,” are gems. With any luck, she’ll sing them when she performs with Dru Hill, Total, and Case at 8 p.m., Friday, April 9, at DAR Constitution Hall, 18th & D Sts. NW. $41.50. (202) 628-4780. (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

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