The success of Rebellious Soul showed skeptics what serious R&B listeners knew years before K. Michelle became a reality television star: that she was the real deal. The 2013 album entered the Billboard 200 at number two and resulted in a Soul Train award for Best New Artist. In 2014, K. Michelle issued a mixtape, turned her debut album into an Idris Elba-directed musical, maintained her presence on the VH1 network with K. Michelle: My Life, and was plotting a number of other moves. A slip in quality control would have been understandable, but there is no indication on Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?, her second proper album, that music hasn't remained her top priority. Like Rebellious Soul, this blends contemporary and classic styles, with the latter incorporated naturally, not as a forced authenticator. Pop & Oak, the duo who co-wrote and produced "V.S.O.P," continue to be the best collaborative match for K. Michelle's happier moments. Their work on "Something About the Night" is exceptional, with gently grinding verses and a floating chorus laid out prior to a switch-up that evokes a blissful liftoff. Dealing out threats ("You gon' pay me in tears"), admitting faults, and agonizing over a wasted opportunity come easy to the singer. That said, she's never quite as moving as she is on "How Do You Know?" -- an undeniable tear-the-house-down piano ballad made with Timothy Bloom, where the mere acknowledgment of risk in entering a relationship sounds torturous. Just as she dials it up vocally, an even higher percentage of her lyrics go beyond traditional sentiments. On "Drake Would Love Me," she pines for Aubrey Graham as she addresses a bad lover. Given the kind of effort she puts into expressing what she and the Canadian hitmaker could do for one another -- she emphasizes certain syllables like surgical knife twists -- it's possible that her future ex's least favorite artist just happens to be Drake. If that, the album's penultimate song, fails to raise brows, finale "God I Get It" ("I'm a mess and I admit it") ought to do it. It's a contemporary country number, pedal steel and all, that doesn't sound the least bit out of character.
Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? Review
by Andy Kellman