R. Kelly, "Write Me Back" (RCA Records)
Dear R. Kelly,
You've gone and done it again. I don't know what's going on with two back-to-back, rather wholesome and anachronistic albums, but your eleventh "Write Me Back" feels like a breath of fresh air on the contemporary urban scene. You may be trying to subvert expectations of your chosen genre, you may be showing off your voice, maybe you are preaching a newfound understanding of relationships, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that you've single-handedly produced and written an album with a voice.
Mixing 1970s funk and soul, `50s beats, church organ sprinkles and `90s nostalgia R&B was an excellent idea. Those sounds, coupled with romantic lyrics, may sound like a cheesefest, but that's what makes the dish so delicious.
You start off with vivacious ode "Love Is" and meander through retro beats and ballads with a purposeful gait. Your only pit stops on the love highway are on the party dance floor with the engaging swing song "All Rounds On Me," and the lively "Party Jumpin'." "Believe That It's So" is the one tune on the record that wanders from the realm of personal into the club. This highly enjoyable dance romp is a testament to your enduring presence on the music scene. You know I'm a "Fool For You"; You've got the "Green Light" to move on to your next album in the knowledge you've nailed this one.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Feeling Single" puts an imaginary cane, a fedora and tux on you, some smooth moves and pushes you right in that spotlight.
Cristina Jaleru covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/cristinelle7