All the subtle variations on Kem’s sound -- his exceptionally smooth adult contemporary R&B, modern quiet storm that has earned the singer two gold-selling albums -- add up to a set that doesn’t sound like a mere rehash of his past successes. While Intimacy features his familiar gentle, less-is-more touch throughout, it’s more forwardly sensual -- skillfully so, without being too brash or overt for his audience -- and upfront all-around, from the romantic material to the odes to mothers and inner peace. On Kemistry and Album II, there often was a slight distance to Kem’s voice, both sonically and lyrically, but there is no such air of mystery here. His voice is clear over the sparse arrangements, and his words are more direct than before. That said, the biggest surprise is “Golden Days,” in which Jill Scott, the first vocal guest on a Kem album, rants and preaches for over a minute.
by Andy Kellman