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CD Review: R. Kelly’s ‘Love Letter’

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R. Kelly’s Love Letter
Ben Westhoff

The Details

R. Kelly
Love Letter
Four stars

R. Kelly’s new work, Love Letter, pays tribute to his classic-soul influences, by way of retro takes on new compositions. That a prodigiously talented craftsman with good range like Kelly could pull this off shouldn’t be a surprise … but it is. Assisted by K. Michelle, “Love Is” feels like an authentic bit of Motown, while “When a Woman Loves” is a slightly derivative but genuinely touching update of Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The album feels vintage not just in its sound, but in its sentiments, which stick mainly to themes of love and affection. Lest you forget whom you’re dealing with, however, there’s also “Taxi Cab,” which concerns—you guessed it—a mobile shagging. Still, Love Letter shows Kelly’s ability to expand his style, and in the process, demonstrates its timelessness.

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