R. Kelly, 'Love Letter' (Jive)

Love Letter
Critical Mass
Release Date: December 14, 2010
Label: Jive

by Maura Johnston

For his tenth album, R. Kelly programs his own decades-spanning radio station of R&B's greatest bits, and there's plenty here that deserves heavy rotation. Motown-inspired showstopper "When A Woman Loves," the Michael Jackson-gone-Quiet Storm "Taxi Cab," and the gently seductive "Lost In Your Love" all benefit from Kelly's exquisite phrasing and unparalleled ability to belt. He hasn't completely abandoned his swagger, shouting out his own 12 Play in the love-as-platinum-record come-on "Number One Hit." But his decision to ditch the club and retreat to a more conventionally romantic setting allows him to let his voice take center stage, which is where it should have been all along.

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