For more than fifteen years, R. Kelly has been in the music game. Set to be released next week, Love Letter, is his tenth studio project. Vibing with an old school feel, it is fourteen remarkable songs. Opening with “Love Letter,” a tone downed stepper, you’d think that this was another stepper album like Happy People/U Saved Me, but the following cut “Number One Hit,” proves that theory wrong. “Number One Hit” is a quiet storm ready track worthy of repeating as is the soulful “Just Can’t Get Enough.”
Love Letter hearkens predominantly to the sound of 60s, 70s and 80s soul. Both “Lost in Your Love” and “Radio Message,” have that swaying juke joint melody but offer up to date touches and depict R. Kelly’s range in a way that has not been seen since 12 Play. Singer K. Michelle joins him on “Love Is,” which gives a nod to Motown with its Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell rhythmic verse play, whereas with “Music Must Be a Lady,” Kelly drives towards the timbres of Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway. The song is masterfully woven into a tapestry of instrumentation with the right amount of earnest vocals. It is on par with “When a Woman Loves,” Love Letter‘s first single, the two being the magnum opuses of Love Letter.
The album closes with “How Do I Tell Her?” a goodbye tale of heartbreak and heartache and a cover of Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone.” Both encompass and show forth why R.Kelly has survived in the music industry for so long. Love Letter is packaged with the right amount of ballads and midtempos pieces, and is one of the best R. Kelly albums to arrive in quite some time.
Love Letter receives a PARLÉ