By Mikael Wood
Updated November 23, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST

The past decade has not been easy for El (né Eldra) DeBarge, the former Motown family-band star whose recurring drug troubles finally led him to prison in 2008. Now a renewed-looking 49, the singer addresses that turmoil on the frankly confessional Second Chance, his first album since 1994 — but because his ethereal vocals still shimmer so effortlessly, plush adult-soul jams like ”How Can You Love Me” and ”When I See You” (the latter co-written by Babyface) end up sounding surprisingly serene. It?s the year?s most elegant tell-all. B+

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