June 29th, 2012 7:29am
Whatever The Cost, I’m Willing To Pay
R. Kelly has spent his last two albums proving that he can effortlessly master virtually any strain of R&B, and do it without even a trace of ironic distance. Both of the records are highly pleasurable, but slightly disappointing – at this point, Kelly’s own quirks are so fascinating and distinctive that it’s a shame to see him dial it down. But at the same time, he’s wise to distance himself from his schtick for a bit. Kelly was right at the edge of tipping over into being a sort of comedy artist, and his talent goes far beyond that, so I understand his interest in reminding his audience that he can play it straight and be just as good, and certainly more smooth and emotionally engaging. “Fool for You,” one of the best songs on Write Me Back, is straight up early 60s R&B pastiche, and it’s just warm and lovely – it’s Kelly playing it by the book, but totally excelling because his understanding of the genre and its craft is so masterful. Still, I find myself wishing there was some kind of curveball thrown somewhere along the way.