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D’Angelo Returns, Sans Sexy Abs, to Mixed Reception


R&B Jesus returned, but the second coming it wasn't.

After more than a decade of personal and legal troubles, Richmond's most celebrated pop musician, D'Angelo, returned to the stage earlier this year with a short European tour, playing to packed theaters and enthusiastic audiences.

Before those shows, his most recent public appearance was before a New York judge in March 2011, after being accused of soliciting a female police officer for sex.

Back in the states, Michael "D'Angelo" Archer has stayed out of trouble, but he's found that pleasing American audiences isn't as easy as wowing European crowds. As the opener for R&B veteran Mary J. Blige, his recent shows left some concertgoers unimpressed. While critics generally have praised his performances, there were reports of indifferent audiences, put off by new music and the absence of some of his old hits.

USA Today wrote that his material at the Essence Festival in New Orleans this summer was "lacking," and that his song selection, which included new songs and album cuts, left the audience "dissatisfied." The general swooning D'Angelo and his chiseled abs induced during his famed "Voodoo" tour more than a decade ago — which led one critic to write that he was "R&B Jesus" — largely have escaped the singer.

"Everybody wants the old D'Angelo and obviously he wants to do new material," says Lou Barber, a longtime associate of the singer and the creative director of his recent tour. "People just weren't ready for the new material."

The singer is "doing great" and working on his third album, Barber adds. The long-delayed project (which has cost his label, RCA Records approximately $3 million, according to one source) is without a release date or a title.

D'Angelo also is without the place he called home during his exile from the music industry. The house he purchased in Midlothian in 1996, on Robious Forest Way, was foreclosed on in April. The five-bedroom house recently was listed on local real estate sites as "the former home of R&B singer D'Angelo" at $387,000. Powhatan-based New Ventures Real Estate purchased it for $260,000.