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.
R. 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:
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene