When I started talking to friends about Kelly droppin’ a new album, they immediately responded with one of these two statements. It was either “It’s gospel right?” or “Really?” No and yes. It’s not a gospel album and while I’m sure a quick Google will give us the explanation behind that, I’m simply not as interested in that transformation as I am about her putting out an album. I still remember when Soul of a Woman debuted…I played that album probably more than any woman I know…don’t judge me. Anyway, I’ve been rollin’ with her ever since, sans the Christmas album. It’s been 5 years since we’ve heard from the songbird so let’s dive into this one and see what she brings on the self-titled project.
The streets tell me that this is the first single from the album. Living in a city with a lackluster R&B/Soul radio presence makes it hard to be in tune with what is going on sometimes. It also doesn’t help that we don’t have a show on TV that showcases this music we love either (BET let’s talk.) Off the soapbox and back to the album, this song is pretty damn amazing. I won’t even bother trying to dissect it, you need this song in your life. What a helluva way to start an album.
2. And You Don’t Stop
From a song that plays like an anthem and song of determination to a fun summer dance song. This one is a nice, mature, uptempo dance track. I tried to find the sample in my album collection but it wasn’t one I could recognize right off hand. Found out later thought, that it’s from the popular song “Galaxy” by War in 1977. That’s what gives it the disco vibe and funky bass guitar. I’d be shocked if this doesn’t get released as a single especially since the song it borrows from was a big hit as well.
3. Not My Daddy Featuring Stokley Of Mint Condition The third song is a bit of a double dip. It was also featured on Mint Conditions album that came out just before Kelly’s. The ironic thing is that it fits each album in a totally different space. It’s easily the best or one of the best two songs on Mint Condition’s album while on Kelly, it’s just another really great song on a good album. It’s like, the last selection on an all-star team.
4. Himaholic I LOVE creativity in songs. Kelly proves that you can be creative with lyrics and concept, and still turn out good quality music. I point this out because a lot of artists out there try to come creative, but end up sounding either corny lyrically or canned production wise. You see the title to you know what this song is about, and it’s done really well. I can appreciate the song, but yeah, I can’t be bumping the resounding chorus with the windows down.
5. I’m Sorry I am going to recommend this song to anyone that has ever been in love. Kelly wrote this song as an apology to herself for allowing herself to endure unnecessary nonsense in a relationship where she stayed too long and basically, let herself down. Y’all know how I feel about songs that I can actually relate too so I won’t belabor the point. I really like this song too.
6. The Rain The arrangement on this song simply beautiful. Thus far, this may be the deepest, most layered track. We get the usual culprits (guitar, keys, soft drums, etc.) but there are also appearances from what sounds like violins, xylophones and other instruments that seem to rarely be called upon. Couple that with dramatic production that crescendos around the three minute mark and dares you to ignore it for an additional two. It reminds me of the songs you hear the lead actress sing in stage plays or big moments in animated movies. It really has a lot of emotion to it. I think where the front end of the song is already good, what happens at that three minute mark and onward is simply fantastic.
Man, look here. This is my favorite song on the album. Kelly channels her inner Tina Turner and just goes all the way in on this one. Once again reaching back and grabbing a different era in sound, she creates a high energy song that is a completely unapologetic about how someone’s love basically has her “vexed.” Ladies I know have a different, less clean, term for this kind of loving but according to them, this is most definitely real. I can’t even do this song justice talking about it, but I’m sure you’ll hear it on one or more of my podcasts because this song is just like that.
Speechless benefits from a smooth transition, but unfortunately, it’s soo much slower than Vexed that I just don’t hear this song. It continues to have that late 70’s mid 80’s sound to it, but it sounds like a relatively average song even for then. I tried to come back and listen to it out of sequence and all I can think about is the song before it.
9. Feels So Good
Opting for a bit more of a keyboard produced sounding track, “Feels So Good” plays much like the title says which is repeated 4x as the chorus. There’s something about this song that will lend itself well to the radio also, but nothing about it reaches out and grabs me like a lot of the other songs do.
10. You Don’t Have To Worry
Where “Tired” was much more standoffish exclamation, this song is a more calm and exhausted version lyrically and musically. Kelly pens some lines on this one that made ME clap hearing them just because they were so simple but on point. One that I especially liked was when she said “You believe, no one else will love me like you / I hope it’s true, because I don’t want another you / too long, I blamed myself for what you did wrong / No more, made up my mind to hit the door.”
11. Lil Sumn-Sumn
Song 11 is another late 70’s to mid 80’s jam like she has done well on this album. Being able to make music that is current while borrowing from an earlier time seems to be something that she’s really honed in on with the production on this album, and she’s done a great job with it. The song itself is dope because you don’t hear women say this in music or otherwise often. Essentially, she’s letting the guy she’s dating know that while he’s doing his thing, she’s going to keep a “Lil Sumn-Sumn” on the side so that she’s not sitting idle waiting for him to get serious. I just had a homegirl in a similar situation make the same choice so I’m going to make sure to send this song to her, she will appreciate it.
12. Get Right Or Get Left
This song completely flips genre’s on us. We get some old church or blues flavor to close out the album. It’s completely fitting for the song’s as she sings about it being time to get your act together, or be gone. She’s tired of the way things are and this is the last stand for the current relationship on all fronts. I don’t know the last time that I’ve heard an album that had 12 tracks, 9 of which are all tied for my second favorite song on the album.
I feel like the title for this album really sums it up. She poured into this album and it really shows. Soul music like this just doesn’t come around often at all but this year, we’ve had a great first half. That said, this one is, to me, the best of those releases up to this point. From older sounds to contemporary production and deeply moving musical arrangements, this album has everything you want from a great soul album. If this album doesn’t win her awards, I’m dying to see who wins. As far as I’m concerned, album of the year on THIS site, is hers until someone does better.