R. Kelly has been a man of many faces for the better part of two decades. As a singer, songwriter, producer and all-around freak, Kelly rarely shies away from risqué topics. Unfortunately, this unique mixture sometimes leads to uneven results with embarrassing tracks like “Sex Planet” and “The Zoo.” After all, who else would take on such topics as having sex in space and making love like zoo animals?
However, in 2009 Kelly decided to trade in the raw lyrics of past hits like “Feelin’ On Yo Booty” for the surprisingly innocent sound of his classic soul album, Love Letter. After two years away and a tonsil surgery behind him, Kelly is back with a sequel cleverly titled Write Me Back. Whereas Love Letter largely focused on recreating the sweet sounds of Sam Cooke and ‘60s-era Stevie Wonder, Write Me Back shows Kelly gravitating toward more of his natural sex-infused tendencies with a ‘70s flare. With tracks like “Love Is” and “Green Light,” he pays homage to the sensuality trademarked by such artists as the Isley Brothers and Teddy Pendergrass.
Kelly also appears intent on creating a dance album without relying on the kind of radio-friendly electro-pop arrangements sung by his R&B rivals (Think something along the lines of Usher’s latest releases.). Instead, Kelly infuses tracks like “Feelin’ Single” and “All Rounds On Me” with wobble dee wobble bass lines and some Philly soul.
On the other hand, Write Me Back is hardly the first album in recent years to pay homage to the classic sounds of ‘70s soul. But it’s Kelly’s powerful voice mixed with such expertly-created arrangements that enable Write Me Back as a stand out in a genre that seems to grow more and more crowded with each passing year. With two consecutive albums, Kelly proves why he belongs in a class above the rest.