Robert Kelly never fully removed himself from the steppin’ era of 2004. But then again, why should he? Most folks have felt the pain of an economic recession, jobs are scarce and our federal government is in a political dissarray; people need an excuse to dance. What’s most interesting of R. Kelly’s latest record, Love Letter, is that his sound has evidently evolved. Throughout this latest musical journey, you’ll know that you are listening to the sounds, thoughts, melodies and heart of a musical master.
“When a Woman Loves” and “Love Is” (the latter featuring a talented unknown named K. Michelle) are reminiscent of a Temptations song, circa 1960-something, when R&B was imaginative. Yes, IMAGINATION. That’s it! That’s the quality that fuels R. Kelly’s je ne sais quoi; the reason he’s been able to equate the goodness of a woman to everything from a Jeep to a “Number One Hit” (one of the many damn near-perfect songs on this album).
For the record, the Pied Piper doesn’t need to tell us directly that he (and just a short list of others) will forever miss and reflect the influence of the great Michael Jackson; the quality of the music speaks (aloud) for itself. Songs like “Not Feelin’ the Love” and “Lost in Your Love” feel like they were crafted for the late King of Pop. While rappers and R&B singers have become one and the same, this man reminds us that there was a time before explicit lyrics…and the men still got laid.
Intentionally, I’ve avoided detailing the production, lyrics and other typical aspects that reviewers (in my opinion) often spend too much time describing. Frankly, that isn’t even my area of expertise. I am a music-lover and I love this music. Best not to over-simplify greatness and imply that there’s a formula that can be replicated. Love Letter, is another great album to add to R. Kelly’s already superb catalogue.