It feels like just yesterday that R. Kelly dropped his last album, Love Letter. Since then he has given a crowd-favorite performance on the Soul Train Awards, addressed the Trey Songz drama and survived surgery on his vocal chords. Now after teasing the web with new songs & videos, the “Pied Piper of R&B” has officially returned with his eleventh career album, Write Me Back. This time around, the soulful crooner not only puts his signature harmonies to use, but takes us all on a musical journey through different styles of music, from past to present.
Kelly brings some energy to the album by kicking it off with his tambourine-clad track “Love Is,” sending us the message that this album’s theme revolves around that four letter word we all know – love. But before we can get too far into the album, he slows it down a bit with a classy, two-steppin’ song named “Lady Sunday,” where he sings about that surprising love a man has for his leading lady.
Of course, it’s only right that Kells throw in a song about a sad reality for a lot of relationships – a man unintentionally breaking a woman’s heart through his actions and words. In “When A Man Lies,” he tells the men out there about the consequences of their actions: “When a man lies / He pierces the very soul of that woman / And I’m just telling the truth.” Three minutes later, he takes that same reality a little further with his Warryn Campbell-co-produced ballad, “Clipped Your Wings,” which serves as a regretful man’s apologetic perspective after mistreating his woman. The chorus kind of reminds you of how 90s R&B songs used to sound – rich in vocal harmonies.
Two tracks later, you’re hit with Kelly’s voice singing acappella to a melody that you wouldn’t at all expect. Once “All Rounds on Me” finally kicks in, you start feeling like you’ve been blasted into the 50s/60s, a time that was once filled with rock & roll, funky soul and Little Richard. Even the call & response portion of the song makes you want to start clapping and do the twist…Well at least, it did for me (Lol).
Thankfully R. Kelly brings us back to the 21st century with, “Believe in Me,” a song about a man in need of his significant other’s strength and support, while he’s away from home. It’s a heartfelt song that would touch the hearts of those with loved ones in the armed forces or incarcerated.
Overall this album wasn’t bad at all. I must admit that it did feel like I was jumping from one style to another, compared to his last albums. It reminded me of that mix CD in your car that has all your favorite songs ever. Despite it’s flow, this funky, yet soulful album basically proves that R. Kelly can handle any genre you throw at him. He’s so gifted with his vocal ability and songwriting that his deluxe edition track, “You Are My World” sounds like a song that would’ve been perfect for the King of Pop, Michael Jackson had he been alive to record it today. If you’re a fan, get it. If you appreciate R&B, get it. Now let’s see what Kells is cooking up for his next album, (supposedly) called Black Panties.