R. Kelly

Love Letter

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Love Letter is not the R. Kelly album for those who love the singer for his freaky ways, his wince/chuckle-inducing lyrics. Apart from one line in “Lost in Your Love” -- specifically “I wanna make love in Braille, while I’m feelin’ on you” -- and perhaps “Taxi Cab,” Kelly’s tenth studio album is tame by his standard. It’s easily the least sexually charged album in his discography, ideal for those who admire him as a singer, arranger, and producer but tune out the fantastical come-ons. Packaged like a classic ‘60s album, a handful of songs are clearly designed to evoke the sound of that era; the pleading “Radio Message” and “When a Woman Loves,” as well as the pained “How Do I Tell Her?” and the bouncing “Love Is” (featuring K. Michelle), are too well-crafted and convincingly delivered to be heard as mere genre exercises. A handful of other highlights, with their lingering melodies, fluid basslines, and delicate flourishes, radiate warmth and recall late-‘70s and early-‘80s soft soul. Otherwise, on the likes of the steady-rocking “Number One Hit,” the sweet title song, and the lighthearted “A Love Letter Christmas,” Kelly is in contemporary mode but continues to keep it classy. A faithful cover of Michael Jackson's “You Are Not Alone,” an unlisted bonus track, closes it out.

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