Review #183: Brown Sugar, D’Angelo

Karla Clifton
3 min readOct 8, 2021

#183: Brown Sugar, D’Angelo

I started working from home two years before COVID happened. It’s a weird lifestyle.

Then COVID happened, and everyone was working from home. Snow days were weird, because they weren’t actually snow days. They were just days that we were working from home where the WiFi may or may not work.

This album marked the beginning of a big blizzard. I did a lot of weird things during this blizzard to keep myself sane, including cleaning a lot and making like seven cups of tea every day. I also marathoned my way through a stretch of the Rolling Stone 500 list. (Once again, I was forced to reckon with the fact that this project was going to take me WAY longer than I thought.)

This was D’Angelo’s debut, and it warmed me throughout the first hours of the storm.

Going down this list at such a speedy clip has become a little like speed-dating, but a couple of really old friends are also in the room. I see D’Angelo and pay shy attention to every beautiful thing he says, and then a couple albums later, the Beastie Boys are trying to do shots with me.

Well, now I’m listening to D’Angelo in a completely different state, with a dog (not a fish) at my feet, and I’m able to appreciate him in a completely different way that I was before. I don’t know what’s different inside me, specifically, but I know something is. Maybe it’s my attention span. This album has been on repeat in my house for a week.


“Brown Sugar” — Definitely have heard this one before. His voice goes up so high!

“Alright” — All these songs are so smooth and chill and low tempo; his voice is understated and he never shows off, but you can tell how much control he has. Also these songs all last for a very long time, which is kind of nice.

“Jonz In My Bones” — I love how long all these songs last, and I LOVE the layered voices. I was going to say, “I love these female backup singers,” but nope — this is ALL D’Angelo.

“Me And These Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine” — More layered voices. I love when they all fall on the word “fall.”

“Shit, Damn, Motherf****r” Why are you sleeping with my woman? ExCUSE me? This was my favorite — not just for the murderous storyline, but also for the keyboards.

“When We Get By” — Second favorite. He reminds me a lot of Prince and Stevie Wonder, just like the RS blurb says.

“Lady” — What a simple, lovely song. I’ll be your lady, D’Angelo!

“Higher” — I knew this was a gospel song long before he started riffing on “Amazing Grace.”


I can’t do it. I loved all these songs.


My only qualm is that I think this album could stand to be a little bit higher, because I kind of think D’Angelo is a genius.

Review #182: Sweet Baby James, James Taylor

Review #184: She’s So Unusual, Cyndi Lauper