Sometimes the line between romanticism and desperation is decided by mere perception, this is likely the case with Robin Thicke’s Paula. The album is much more than just a record with a number of good song, it is an attempt to win back his estranged wife of the same name and is quite possibly the most personal record of the year, along with Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour.
Thicke’s 14-track album stays true to the meaning of a concept album, consistent with the theme of trying to win back his wife, actress Paula Patton. While such an album is destined to be polarizing, with some viewing such an album as Thicke “(crying) himself a river” and others viewing the piece as a romantic attempt to make up for his mistakes of the past, the album does not fail to deliver a number of great tracks. While it will not have the pop radio spins that “Blurred Lines” had in 2013, Paula‘s first single “Get Her Back” showcases Thicke’s exceptional vocals and the one thing that matters to him more than the music. However the first single is overly repetitive in its structure and is far from the album’s best song. Contrasting yet great songs like ‘Still Madly Crazy’ and ‘Whatever I Want’ show Thicke’s ability to stay with a theme yet still have diversity in the album’s sound, a tough task for many concept albums. The tracks also have extremely personal lyrics. In ‘Still Madly Crazy’, Thicke sings “Every night you’d close your eyes on my chest like its home. And you said until that happened you just can’t fall asleep without you laying your head on me.” Although only Thicke and Patton know the details of their marriage, Thicke gives up an intimate portrait of their time together.
Although none of us can relate the joys of being married to Paula Patton, or the horrors of losing her, we can still relate to Thicke’s lyrics. In ‘The Opposite of Me’ Thicke sings “All that she wants is the honest. All that she wants is the opposite of me.” and “its the actions not the words.” Although Thicke may have wanted to stay away from the “you’re way too young to dance like that in front of a man like me” lyric in ‘Love Can Grow Back’ if he want’s Paula to forget about the Miley Cyrus VMA incident.
The album is well produced with beautiful piano melodies, complemented by Thicke’s great voice. Although many listeners hope for personal records from their favorite artists, this record may be too personal for some. Paula certainly does not have the poppy hits like ‘Blurred Lines’, but it does provide fifty minutes of songs from the heart, something we want from an R&B singer. Spoiler alert, we do not find out if Thicke gets back Paula by the end, but we do look forward to seeing if Paula Patton views her dedication as a pathetic attempt or a romantic ode.