Various Artists

Honey Love: Smooth Jazz Plays R. Kelly

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Disappointing because of what could have been but pleasant enough for what it is, Shanachie's Honey Love: Smooth Jazz Plays R. Kelly is bedroom-sexy half of the time, but a quarter of the album mistakes "smooth" for "bland" and "background" for "wallpaper." The highlights bookend the album with a feel-good version of "Bump N' Grind" opening the album and two of Kelly's big epics closing. Pamela Williams captures the "Toot! toot!/Beep! beep!" spirit of "Ignition" and Marion Meadows' wandering take on "I Believe I Can Fly" is the most "jazz" and exciting moment on the album. Everette Harp puts a wealth of emotion into his "I Can't Sleep, Baby," which unfortunately makes his track stick out like sore thumb among the album's sleepwalking middle section that totally misses every sensual opportunity Kelly's music offers. Adding to the facelessness is Shanachie's packaging, which buries every artist's name in the small font credits and advertises the label's compilations rather than albums from the talent involved. All this said, none of the tracks are embarrassments and the highlights are worth hearing.

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