Keke Wyatt

Soul Sista

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After several years of slinky, '70s-inspired divas, the contemporary R&B movement would seem to have been well-plotted, with little ground left to cover stylistically. Soul Sista, the debut from Keke Wyatt, adds little to the repertoire of Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott, though Wyatt's strong voice and admirable range save the album from itself. The single "Used to Love" rides a nice groove, with heavily synthesized horns and light scratching, while Wyatt vamps over the production. Her performances are good throughout, but too many tracks on Soul Sista rely on the retread blueprint for late-'90s R&B: deep beats, backing vocalists on the chorus for counterpoint, at least one cleverly vocoderized song ("Talkin' 'Bout Love"), and an odd glut of contradictory message tracks, either pointing up the role of the independent female ("I Don't Wanna") or very nearly submitting to the dominant male ("Bad Boy"). Most of the blame goes to impresario Steve "Stone" Huff, who wrote all but one of the songs, produced and arranged every track, and played every note heard on the album.

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