Former Gap Band lead singer Charlie Wilson scored big with his 2005 comeback album Charlie, Last Name Wilson, and after four years (and a bout with prostate cancer), he returns with a more club-oriented, contemporary sound on Uncle Charlie. Fans of the last album may be a little disappointed with the club beats and contemporary flourishes from a classic R&B artist, but Wilson’s signature voice is good enough to overcome the occasional sonic misstep.

Among the uptempo jams, the almost Euro-dance Let it Out sticks out, with its’ galloping bassline lifted from Charlie’s 1982 Gap Band hit “Burn Rubber”, but the album really picks up steam with songs like the swaying ballad “There Goes My Baby”, the summery midtempo track “What You Do to Me” and the dramatic “Homeless”. The guest artists (Snoop, as well as an Auto-Tuned Jamie Foxx and T-Pain) are unobtrusive but also unnecessary.

Uncle Charlie is proof positive that mediocre production and songwriting can be saved by superior vocals. While I would have liked content that was a little more mature, organic and age-appropriate, this album stands out as solid enough (in a ridiculously craptastic year for R&B so far) that I’m willing to give Wilson a pass.