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R Kelly is one of the biggest stars in R&B and has been for the last Twenty years coming up with some of the biggest hits of the era. He has released 10 studio albums and has worked or written for just about anyone in the R&B genre. Now in his mid forty's he's still going strong musically and continues to receive critically and commercial acclaim and he is set to release two studio albums in 2012 with release dates as yet unknown as of writing this review.
This album is the usual R Kelly loving but with an old school twist from the 60s and 70s with him paying homage to the kind of Classic Soul from his favourite singers of that era. The albums biggest success came in the United States where it reached number two in the album charts.
1.) Love Letter Prelude
This is a short introduction with R Kelly in sweet form vocally. In it he pays tribute to the fans who listen to his music and allow him to continue doing what he loves.
2.) Love Letter
This is a catchy ballad about writing a love letter to someone you love and finding out their response to it. The slower ballads on the album are better but this is a nice track which has R Kelly with a laid back vocal and some catchy beats and gentle keys. It doesn't progress as well as the best on the album but it is still worth a listen as it works well as a tribute to that someone you love. Some good vocals towards the end raise this track to very good.
3.) Number One Hit
This is a catchy mid tempo ballad with some funky licks and a catchy beat which is classic R Kelly. His vocals here are amongst the best and most effortless on the album. It's a very chilled track which will suit a night in with your partner chilling with some music and some wine. It's a very well put together track and really flows well. I really like the efforless vocal performance on the album, his voice shines with a great expressive feel almost without it sounding like he's trying.
4.) Not Feelin' The Love
This is a track about when you realise there seems something wrong with the relationship with your partner that they are not telling you and when you break up. I'm sure this track will touch a nerve with some people who can identify with the sentiment of the track. Looking back on the end of a relationship and wanting things to be right again. There's a little feel of Michael Jackson in this track towards the end and that really compliments the feel of the song, R Kelly really shines vocally at this point,
5.) Lost in Your Love
This is a lovely soulful track which opens with R Kelly proclaiming "I wanna bring love songs back to the radio, can I bring love songs back to the radio". This seems like a criticism of recent music radio shifting to a different style. This is a lovely gentle ballad which combines old style classic soul with a fresh feel. This is a romantic ballad with some excellent vocals from R Kelly and his backing vocalists. I like the way it progresses and it's up there with the best tracks on the album.
6.) Just Can't Get Enough
This is a catchy mid tempo ballad with R Kelly on form vocally with some powerful vocal tones throughout. The musical feel on this reminds me of "Happy People" from his double album Happy People/U Saved Me. This makes for an impressively catchy mid tempo ballad with some great vocals and licks. It's not quite up there with the best on the album though as the music isn't quite as sparkling as the best work on the album. Good stuff though.
7.) Taxi Cab
This is a rather raunchy track which tells the story of Taxi Love, in other words getting it on in the back of a Taxi on the way home from the Club. This progresses as well as any track on the album and the vocals are on form. The guitar work of Donnie Lyle complements the soaring vocals from R Kelly and this is one of the most impressive tracks on the album, particularly musically with some fine guitar work from Lyle. An excellent song which progresses so well.
8.) Radio Message
This is another catchy ballad which this time is about looking back on a breakup and trying to make amends and get your partner back by proving to them how much you love them. It's a real old school love song with some really great moments vocally and the soulful musical backing really compliments the sentiment. The vocal delivery is impressive as is the overall feel of the song. This is up there with the best on the album. Very good stuff.
9.) When a Woman Loves
This is an absolutely superb ballad, it is arguably one of his best tracks. His vocals are absolutely superb and the gentle strings and horns in the background set the emotive tone delightfully. This is such a superb track because it's dripping with emotion and the vocals are just superb, power, poise and emotion in equal measure on this sensational track about missing someone when your relationship is over and how much you want them back in your life. Superb stuff. This track received critical acclaim from critics.
10.) Love Is
This is a catchy duet with K Michelle who you probably hadn't heard of. This is an excellent ballad which evokes aural memories of soul duets from the great Soul periods in the 60s and 70s. Michelle does an excellent job with her powerful expressive vocals which show good tone as well. Judging by her voice she should be more well known than she is. An excellent collaboration that is both emotive and a toe tapper at the same time. Excellent stuff.
11.) Just Like That
This is a flowing slice of soul, R Kelly moves through the lyrics with a natural vocal backed well by the backing vocalists and the music helps build the scene which is about meeting someone you have an instant attraction to and everything is going well and you feel so much better about things with them. The music could be a little slower which would emote the song better but as it is it's a rather decent track with some great vocals and harmonies. good stuff.
12.) Music Must Be A Lady
This is a fantastic track which really showcases the vocal ability of R Kelly. His voice is remarkably reminiscent of Marvin Gaye on this sumptuous track. This track is about likening the love with your special someone to great music you like. The music on this track is a lovely orchestral piece which features superb drum rolls which add to the dramatic feel of the track. This is R Kelly at his absolute best. A wonderful track with some superb vocals and it's very emotive indeed. Superb stuff.
13.) A Love Letter Christmas
As the album was released in December it has a Christmas ballad which has a catchy beat and picks up from the Love Letter track setting it in a Christmas scene. It's a well crafted track and thankfully it's not too Christmassy but about spending time with that special someone at Christmas time. Not the best track on the album but certainly not bad.
14.) How Do I Tell Her
Back to the real emotive stuff here, It's about the time when you know things are over in a relationship and you need to tell your partner that it's not working anymore and you need to break up. R Kelly's vocals are again superb here and he's wonderfully backed by the orchestra which along with the other music reminds me of another of his great tracks, "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time". This is another excellent track which features a fabulous moment towards the end where he showcases his vocal power.
15.) Untitled Track
You'll all know Michael Jackson's classic "You Are Not Alone" but some may not have known that it was written by R Kelly, well here is his version of the song as a tribute to Jackson. It's a lovely tender reworking which features different beats and hooks but keeps the pace of the original. This is a great track in a different way and with a cover version you are looking for an artist to make it their own and this R Kelly has certainly done. It's a great cover of a song he actually wrote.
This is a superb album and a welcome return to the Love Ballads that R Kelly has been known for for years. The best tracks on the album stand up with anything he has done and the other tracks aren't bad either. After the fairly mixed Untitled album this is a return to form for R Kelly who showcases he still has what it takes to produce an album of real quality. One of the best albums of 2010 and one that should be the style he adopts for future albums too. It really is an excellent album.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Love Letter Prelude
2 Love Letter
3 Number One Hit
4 Not Feelin' The Love
5 Lost In Your Love
6 Just Can't Get Enough
7 Taxi Cab
8 Radio Message
9 When A Woman Loves
10 Love Is
11 Just Like That
12 Music Must Be A Lady
13 A Love Letter Christmas
14 How Do I Tell Her?
15 Bonus Track