Best shows Omar, who produced the whole album, perfecting his own contemporary brand of bebop, as he soulfully riffs all over the disc's 13 tracks (and a couple of remixes). Just like the other albums he has released (including his underappreciated 1995 U.S. debut, For Pleasure), he combines cool-blue jazziness, neo-soul nerve and a smidgen of reggae-flavored inspiration, and through it all he creates a distinctive style that's familiar but fresh.
The title track couples spangly synthesizers with a rambling dub melody. "Essensual" and "Tell Me" are both busy soul-samba numbers, filled with lively horns and organs. The finale, "In the Morning," is a beautiful, twinkling doo-wop throwback.
Best by Far may be a cocky title for an album by a guy who's still trying to find his way into Yankee ear canals. (Who does he think he is -- LL Cool J or something?) But when you have the goods to back it up, a brash title can be forgiven.