K-Ci & JoJo

My Brother's Keeper

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This is the Hailey brothers' first U.S. album since 2002's Emotional. Since then, they've had more downs than ups, as documented in K-Ci & JoJo: Come Clean, a 2010 series televised by TV One. Now with the eOne label, a refuge for established artists in the ever-shrinking major-label R&B industry, the Haileys were matched with an assortment of songwriters and producers who helped them make what is neither their best nor their worst work as a duo. Some of the productions are all-the-way-modern contemporary R&B, but none of the lyrics attempt to compete with the racier younger generation that Jodeci spawned. "Middle of the Night," as in middle-of-the-night sex, is the closest they get to explicit, but it's written from the perspective of parents who can't get down until the kids are asleep. K-Ci sounds older than his age, and JoJo's voice isn't as steady as it once was, but this is a satisfying and occasionally compelling return that is true to their past and present -- just heartfelt R&B with no guest MCs and no dance-pop. Considering what they've been through, it's better than what was expected. The best creative move was the idea to cover the Vanguards' 1969 cult classic soul weeper "Somebody Please." If performed live with as much conviction as the version here, it should bring the house down. K-Ci pours more of himself into this song than any other.

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