Forty years and 41 US Top 10 singles into their career, Minneapolis producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have finally completed their debut album. To be fair, the tardiness is justified: Volume One feels meticulously pored over, with each of its 10 R&B and soul symphonies unfurling luxuriantly, unhurried by streaming-era attention spans.
The pair have also used that time to cherrypick a stacked roster of former collaborators, with frequent muse Janet Jackson the only notable absence. So an energised Mary J Blige channels 2001’s No More Drama on widescreen empowerment anthem Spinnin; Toni Braxton slinks huskily around the six-minute sadness suite Happily Unhappy; and Boyz II Men own the fluttering, key change-heavy 90s ballad The Next Best Day.
If these collaborations occasionally rely on comfortable nostalgia, the prowling, Usher-assisted Do It Yourself – all splintering electronics and heaving beats – is a welcome reminder that Jam and Lewis can still conjure up something fresh-sounding. It’s a shame, then, that funk closer Babylove, featuring the Time’s Morris Day, is hobbled by lecherous lyrics about sugar daddies. Overall, however, this is an immaculately produced debut that makes you instantly long for Volume Two.