Roberta Kelly

Roots Can Be Anywhere

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Continuing the adventurous trend started by the gospel-disco fest Gettin' the Spirit, Roberta Kelly's fourth album finds the vocalist expanding her delivery to a culturally diverse selection of both dance numbers and ballads. It's therefore quite unfortunate the LP's release was limited to a few European markets. On her first effort outside the production harness of Giorgio Moroder, the approach of Michael Holm and Rainer Pietsch is amiably soulful and invitingly kinetic. Aided by a passionate backing chorus and highly proficient rhythm section, the jovial "Miel Masai" and "Aie" boast irresistible grooves and two of Kelly's most sure-fire vocals on record. It's refreshing to hear her sing in a foreign language on these, and to sing a folk tale of sorts via the enrapturing "Little Mary Joe." That Kelly co-wrote all but one of the songs makes it even more meaningful in the sometimes artistically restraining throes of disco. The only weakness of the album is the unnecessary duration of "Unless We Gonna Change It," which is nonetheless a solid entry. Otherwise, Roots Can Be Anywhere is a pert collection with Kelly consistently in top form.