In the mercurial world of R&B—which can be especially unfair to female singers—Lalah Hathaway has managed to remain perennially relevant while adhering only to her own pace and her own vision. 2004’s Outrun the Sky feels thoroughly modern without bowing to trends. “Back Then,” “Your Favorite Song,” and “Better and Better” do the impossible: they're both breezy and substantial, like the glassine uptempo arrangements from Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. Hathaway wrote or cowrote all but four of the album’s songs, and as a vocalist she’s never been freer. The extended gospel of “We Were 2” leaves her plenty of room to stretch out her voice, but she's just as agile within the lush, hypnotic moods of “More” and “Boston.” “Forever, for Always, for Love” was one of Luther Vandross’ most enduring love songs, and Hathaway retains its timeless sound. It could have been written any time between the '60s and the present. Hathaway knew there was no point in trying to “update” Luther’s sound. Instead, she gives the song her own feeling. While Luther’s version was sensual and thrilling, Lalah makes it intimate and confessional.