Zayn, formerly of One Direction, is appealing on solo debut

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Posted: Mar 25, 2016 4:00 PM
Zayn, formerly of One Direction, is appealing on solo debut

Zayn, "Mind of Mine" (RCA Records)

Wait, Zayn was in One Direction? You'll ask yourself that question after listening to his solo album.

"Mind of Mine" — which comes a year to the day he officially announced he was leaving 1D — is a mostly downbeat R&B-pop adventure that shows Zayn has some true star quality.

It's a departure from the pop grooves One Direction have become known for, and Zayn's new songs — in the vein of Chris Brown, Frank Ocean and recent Justin Bieber — are appealing. There isn't a bad tune in the batch of 14 tracks.

"It's You" is a pretty, falsetto-heavy slow groove; "BeFour" is addictive and catchy; "Truth" feels like a neo-soul song of the early 2000s; and on "She" and "Fool for You," the singer reminds you why he did well on "The X Factor," where 1D formed in 2010.

Malay, the producer who worked heavily on Ocean's Grammy-winning "channel ORANGE," also works his magic on Zayn's album, as do producers Levi Lennox, xyz, Alan Sampson and MakeYouKnowLove.

It may be a group of names you don't recognize, but that's a good thing for Zayn. While his album's sound isn't particularly new, it's unique and tailor-made for Zayn. He's heading in the right direction.