on 25 December 2010
If you have been listening to R Kelly since his time with Public Announcement and his early solo work then it will not need stating that he is a man of immense talent, who has managed to sustain a long term career in a genre that has become increasingly short term in aspiration and inspiration, with little sustained support before the next 'big thing' is discovered and packaged (increasingly aimed at younger audiences). The cover photograph, the cd design and accompanying iconography all immediately appear to suggest that Kelly has followed the path of Raphael Saadiq's 'The Way I See It' (2008), and decided to present an album rooted in the music and iconography of an earlier age. The question is, is that indeed the case?
The album opens with a short vocal prelude dedicated to "the girls who stood beside me, and even all the bootleggers that couldn't afford to buy me" (evidence perhaps of a man not taking himself too seriously) before moving in to the title track 'Love Letter'. This is a very solid and pleasant modern melodic groover, likely to receive wide radio play and support, particularly from older soul fans. 'Number One Hit' is a slower paced affair, over which Kelly's voice softly croons and caresses, whilst 'Not Feelin' The Love' is a paen to lost love and better times, another strong and smooth melodic stand out. In 'Lost In Your Love' he sings of "...wanting to bring the love songs back to the radio', before delivering a very smooth performance. 'Just Can't Get Enough' is a song that hints at Kelly's admiration of Marvin Gaye's vocal technique and vocal inflections, delivered over a very contemporary working of earlier sounds. 'Radio Message' is another track that looks back to earlier soundscapes, whilst 'When a Woman Loves', perhaps the strongest track (with hints of Sam Cooke), manages to steer a fine course between homage and musical bombast. Motown appears to be behind 'Love Is', a duet with K Michelle, and 'Just Like That' is another smoothly delivered slower paced cut. 'Music Must Be a Lady' is another song bearing the influence of Marvin Gaye, before the album appears to conclude with 'How Do I Tell Her?'. There is, however, an 'extra' track included, a surprising cover of Michael Jackson's 'You Are Not Alone'.
So. Do you buy?
This will remain a largely redundant question for Kelly's long term fans, but this is an album that could well extend upon that base, exposing his latest work to a wider audience. Whilst the the initial impression suggested by the album artwork points to Kelly joining the recent revivalist movement for black music of the 1950s and 1960s, disposing of drum machines and electrical sounds, that doesn't prove to be the case, so some buyers may well be disappointed. However, that would be to misunderstand the possible intention of this album, the soundscape is entirely modern (with particular referencing to 'Happy People' and 'Step In The Name Of Love'), yet there are distinct echoes and reflections of earlier Soul music greats. Most importantly, the album eschews a collaborative approach and not a single track is interrupted by an inane rap, which is to be warmly welcomed. In short, this is a commercial soul / R&B album for grown ups.
This album doesn't purport to change the world, it simply allows the right amount of space for Kelly to showcase what he does best - sing.
A good album, and a good buy. Recommended.
on 22 December 2010
This is a brilliant album from start to finish,so many good songs including the hit When A Woman Loves.This is R kelly at his best,mature sound,this is real music,this is a masterpiece.
on 15 May 2013
For the Hip Hop generation, they can understand this album. R Kelly's career was "born in the 90s", at the height of Hip Hop golden age. The genre recycled the 60s & 70s to create a new music that dominates the charts all over the world. When he recorded "Happy People/Save me", the R in RNB looked up to Marvin Gaye as an inspiration for disc 1 of that opus. Daring, but it worked to some extent. Even though "When a woman loves" is in the same mould of "If I could turn the hands of time", R Kelly has enough songs to adorn this offering. The identical "Love letter" and "Christmas love letter" have beautiful melodies, with the latter becoming one of my new staple at christmas parties. Also check out, "Number one hit" with all the song references for a hit song.
In these day and age, consistency is key to keep your customers. In this case, your fans. R Kelly has re-invented himself at various time, but has been able to retain his core fans. His honeyed melodies are uncanny and his songwriting has evolved that much, but are expected. Miguel seems to be breaking the ground, but most of the contemporaries will struggle to come close to what this guy has achieved: longetivity.
on 21 June 2013
My most favourite tracks are "When a woman Loves" - this song was the main reason I bought the album, I kept hearing it on the radio and thinking, that's not R Kelly but it was and I listened to a few more tracks before I bought the whole album! The other track I like is a Michael Jackson Cover bonus track "You are not alone", one of my favourites. The more I listen to it, the more I like it.
Been away a long time and with a lot of baggage, but the pied piper is back and on form returning to old skool R & B.
There are some killer tracks on this CD, the only downside is the drum machine programming which starts to grate after a while but that could be said about lots of music these days.
Played this one a lot in the car and at home and would highly recommend.
on 28 January 2011
Yes he's back again, and yet again the man just seems to deliver quality each and every time. The album is based on an "old school" soul sound, and R gets it right!
If you like Kelly's work, its a must buy album.
on 2 July 2012
I Absolutely love this album! This truly is a must 4 all real RnB fans. R. Kelly sounds great, and every song on here sounds like an instant classic. I really love the old skool vibe. Shows why R. Kelly is still the King of RnB! My fav tracks are... Love Letter, Number One Hit, Lost In Your Love, Just Can't Get Enough and Radio Message, the whole album is great though! If you are a fan of vintage RnB you'll luv this album! xx