K. Michelle's career is a case study in the varying effects of commercial radio and reality television on the condition of 2010s R&B. After Kimberly Michelle Pate didn't receive proper support from her first label, her future in music was in flux. It took reality television stardom to prompt a second shot, a deal with major label Atlantic. Pate's first two albums, both great and firmly connected to soul with a modern and emotionally naked perspective, topped the R&B/Hip-Hop chart and went Top Five pop, yet a pair of its singles barely touched the Hot 100. Released while K. Michelle: My Life was nearing the end of its second season, More Issues Than Vogue wisely sticks to roughly the same makeup of Pate's first two albums. "Make the Bed," featuring Jason Derulo, takes a somewhat surprising shot at crossover play, but it's mostly in the production and the deployment of a melodic "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" in the background, something like the umpteenth instance of its use in contemporary dance-pop. The front placement of two T-Pain collaborations gets the album off to a strong, strutting start. Several of her established associates, such as Blac Elvis and Pop & Oak, eventually arrive to ensure a familiar mix of traditional structures and contemporary dressing. Pate doesn't receive a songwriting credit for any of the first seven songs, but the material does tend to suit her personality, most effectively throughout the dissatisfied "Nightstand," where she requests "Baby, please excuse my behavior, but can I get back the fucks that I gave ya?" The expletive is emphasized to signal that it definitely carries a double meaning. Pate is credited with the co-writing of the album's final five songs, highlighted by the moments when she's filing grievances, discarding a lover, and dropping her guard, possibly making the vocal booth glass rattle a bit in the process. There's also more countrified material in the mix, if in a fashion less obvious than the previous album's "God I Get It." Apart from the frivolous "Rich," this latter sequence is close to flawless, concluded with "Sleep Like a Baby," a scathing anti-lullaby.
More Issues Than Vogue Review
by Andy Kellman