Keyshia Cole

Woman to Woman

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This album's title is more a justification for the crazy artwork concept than its musical composition. It's not like this set makes for a back-to-basics move following a wild departure from the norm. Besides, Keyshia Cole could not possibly make an album without addressing former, current, and prospective lovers. Drop a cursor on any spot in the album: "You coulda had it all"; "Ain't got me moanin' like you used to"; "I've tried everything from praying to breaking things to getting out of line." No, Woman to Woman is merely the fifth Keyshia Cole album. Although women are rarely addressed directly, Cole still makes music for women dealing with a wide variety of emotionally painful romantic issues. Relationships in decay, as usual, are a popular subject. The crisp "Enough of No Love," just about ruined by Lil Wayne comic relief, wins out for Cole's stinging "Had me thinking 'bout callin' that bitch that night and let her know where she can come and meet me, but I'm-a be a lady." "Trust and Believe" enters like it could get thunderous, settles into a dreamlike atmosphere with echoing finger snaps, and deals with an ex who left her for her best friend: "She ain't no better than you/She's a three...I'm a ten." Three of the album's best songs catch Cole in blissful and hopeful situations: the in-the-red Jack Splash throwback "I Choose You" (think Jazmine Sullivan's "Excuse Me"), the twinkling and candy-coated Dream/Los collaboration "Hey Sexy," and Bink!'s soaring/fluttering "Next Move" (featuring Robin Thicke in a serve-the-song, not Robin Thicke, background role). Cole has yet to release a dud, but this is among her best work -- somewhere between The Way It Is and Just Like You in terms of quality.

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