Sean Hobbes is a Philadelphia expat who’s engendered some buzz around town with a series of mixtapes that bind his love of modern R&B (Philly natives seem to be born with it in their veins) and the kind of pop that crosses over to the mainstream but still maintains a healthy amount of soul (think Maroon 5). This proper full-length debut is the very definition of a sleeper, unassuming in almost every way: Hobbes surrounds himself with several unnamed but quality musicians, all of whom do a great job injecting just a little bit of modern jazz into his confessionals, but the production still feels a little thin and Hobbes’ voice occasionally gets pitchy. Yet this music will stay with you, if only for its honesty.
His songs, short and self-effacing and very much the product of a millennial mindset—endlessly hopeful, centered, grounded, meditative if not quite mystical, fascinated with his own search for identity yet not to the point of narcissism—don’t have much to say lyrically, at least not anything you can’t already get from the radio. The sheer force of his awareness is nevertheless subtly fascinating: Whenever he opens his mouth, he sounds like someone amazed just to be alive and fully invested in his own potential, mesmerized by the power of his own innocence. It’s practically a commencement speech, done up with a series of short, almost haiku-simple ballads that radiate enough warmth to push most criticisms aside. He can learn the nuances. Right now it’s enough that he’s got the form. His muse is already present.