Mary J. Blige
Don't assume that Mary J. Blige's happy marriage to record exec Kendu Isaacs has dulled the emotional edge that's made her the most compelling R&B singer of the past 15 years. Sure, she spends plenty of 2005's The Breakthrough
singing about the sort of romantic satisfaction that the bulk of her earlier work insists is a chimera. But satisfied, the music is not: In "Be Without You," her best single since "Family Affair," she finds as much drama in her desire to preserve her domestic fulfillment as she used to in the fear that fulfillment might never arrive.
Opener LeToya Luckett was a first-generation member of Destiny's Child; her new self-titled debut is full of high-sass kiss-off jams, while Jaheim sings hard-edged R&B ballads.