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Tuesday Tunes: Spotlight on R. Kelly

On Tuesdays, we’ll take a look at some new releases for the week, including a spotlight review. Kicking things off is Chicago soul man, R. Kelly.

R2R. Kelly, “Write Me Back”

With his 2010 “Love Letter” album, R. Kelly proved that he could shelve the salacious bedroom chatter that highlight so many of his songs in favor of something a bit more meaningful, like, say, love.

The album, which was nominated for a Grammy for best R&B album this year but lost to Chris Brown, showcased a genuine affection for classic soul music and Kelly is savvy enough to stick with that direction for now (his promised return to raunchiness, “Black Panties,” is on hold until next year).

On “Write Me Back,” available today, he slides from the slick groove of “Feelin’ Single” to the Smokey Robinson/Motown vibe of “Fool for You” with effortless grace. His voice naturally fits these giddy love songs, many of which lean back to the ‘70s for their influence – “Love Is” could have been performed by Tavares back in the day, while “Party Jumpin’” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the “Grease” soundtrack.

With few exceptions, these 16 songs float on airy melodies and sound as if they were crafted by someone with an authentic appreciation of music, not a singer looking to score a cheap and easy radio hit.

Kelly has a busy summer ahead, as his work on the “Sparkle” soundtrack will be released July 31 (he produced “Celebrate,” the uptempo duet between Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks). But first, take a few weeks to feast on the poolside summer jams he’s offering on “Write Me Back.”

Also available today:

  • Everclear, “Invisible Stars,” the band’s first album in six years, released in time for the Summerland tour with Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground (July 13 at Chastain).
  • Casey Abrams, “Casey Abrams,” the bearded fellow with a penchant for infusing vapid pop songs with a growly, bluesy edge on “American Idol” in 2011.
  • Joe Jackson, “The Duke,” a tribute to Duke Ellington that features a guest appearance from Sharon Jones.
  • Maroon 5, “Overexposed” – hard to believe it’s only the band’s fourth album in a decade since they seem to be omnipresent…unlike that “Payphone” Adam Levine sings about so fondly on the album’s first single.
  • Linkin Park, “Living Things,” which the band says returns them to a more “familiar sound.” Rick Rubin and LP’s Mike Shinoda handled production, as they did on the band’s last two albums.
  • Jerry Douglas, “Traveler,” the 14th album from the dobro master which features guest appearances from Eric Clapton, Mumford & Sons, Paul Simon and frequent band mates, Alison Krauss and Union Station.

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

11 comments Add your comment

FM Fats

June 26th, 2012
8:44 am

Cassandra Wilson’s new album “Another Country” also drops today.

gm

June 26th, 2012
9:57 am

R thanks for keeping the tradition of soul in the music, Chris, Neo, Trey Song, sit back and take notes on how to sing like a man, and not like bubba gum, empty shallow sound.

Will there ever be another crooner like Luther?

Ivan Cohen

June 26th, 2012
12:37 pm

Love letter was easy listening, the lyrics weren’t hard to remember. But it does seem like love as expressed by R&B singers today is a far cry from Otis Redding or Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye or even Teddy Pendergrass. Kelly’s Write Me Back sounds like a sequel to Love Letter. Frankly radio looks like it is out to score easy programming. They play the same songs over and over again at the exact same time each day. The quote “hit singles” don’t to have a “b” or flipside anymore. I hope Kelly breaks his promise regarding releasing “Black Panties” next year. It doesn’t take long for ” raunch” to morph into ” gross”.

Denise

June 26th, 2012
1:05 pm

Kem is the man anyway….

Get it Right

June 26th, 2012
1:29 pm

Get your facts straight Thogwummpy before you post. R Kelley did not molest more than 10 boys and was not CONVICTED like nasty Sandusky. R. Kelley was accused of acts with an underage girl but was ACQUITTED of all charges.

Melissa Ruggieri

June 26th, 2012
1:53 pm

Hi, Get it Right- I removed that comment since it was both inaccurate and irrelevant to the post.

Thanks,
Melissa

Big C

June 26th, 2012
2:26 pm

AJC bloggers always having something negative to say…

To ALL Remedial ATLiens

June 26th, 2012
4:33 pm

This article is about the album release.

thereugo

June 26th, 2012
4:41 pm

Big C don’t be so negative.

returnof4eva

June 26th, 2012
7:52 pm

You left out Maybach Music Group presents: Self Made 2

lessismore

June 27th, 2012
12:37 pm

Worth mentioning Atlanta’s own Kima Charysse. She has a single out called Possible.