Monday, August 27, 2012

The Philippine Star: Write Me Back Review

Two years ago, the controversial R. Kelly released a gem of a recording with Love Letter. As is usual with his every album, the CD was marked with sensitive songwriting, flawless vocals and superior production. This was not lost on buyers who gave him another big seller and on the critics who lavished praise on his work. What made it truly interesting though is that it was really a love letter. He wrote a most special one using the entire album.

It was a love letter to his fans who stood by him come hell or high water. Remember that sex with a minor scandal and his much-publicized falling out with Jay-Z. It was also a tribute to the soul legends of old who first inspired him. Danny Hathaway, Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and others. Or it was a love letter to a special girl or to all those females, young or old, that he loved before. R. Kelly was in great voice throughout and his version of You Are Not Alone, presented as a secret cut, which he first wrote and produced for Jackson was truly beautiful.

Two years later, R. Kelly is back. He comes armed with the Billboard Music Award for being the No. 1 Most Successful R&B Artist of the Past 25 Years and he really lives up to the honor with his new album. Write Me Back is another Love Letter. It is also an extraordinary piece of work with exactly the same concept. Love songs that are sexy, fun and compelling R&B. R. Kelly is again in top form as a singer, songwriter and producer. I will not be surprised if this will be another big seller steeped in critical acclaim.

Most impressive here is the way R. Kelly worked with R&B music. I am sure that those of you who remember the R&B sounds from 30 or so years ago have also noticed this. The music is not the same anymore. It has not really gone bad, it is just different, not as affecting. It makes you long for those Quincy Jones productions, for the songs of George Benson, Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross, Brian McKnight and others. R. Kelly captured that in the new songs in Write Me Back. You hear all the old voices as you listen to the album. There are even hints of Elvis Presley, who was really a great rhythm and blues interpreter. And R. Kelly brings everything up to date.

Believe in Me, Feeling Single, Share My Love and When A Man Lies are the best of the batch. I am sure though that many will also enjoy Love Is, Lady Sunday, Clipped Wings, Believe That It’s So, Fool For You, All Rounds On Me, Green Light, Party Jumpin’, Beautiful In This Mirror, You Are My World, Fallin’ From The Sky and One Step Closer.

This is for everyone who loves R&B, who liked R. Kelly’s Love Letter or who simply appreciates great music.

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