Kelly Price: Kelly

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Posted August 19, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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Kelly is a long time coming: It’s the R&B diva’s best album to date

Overnight, Kelly Price went from R&B sensation to a certifiable candidate for VH1’s “Where Are They Now.” In the 1990’s, she sung with Whitney Houston on “Heartbreak Hotel,” with Notorious B.I.G. on “Mo Money Mo Problems” and rode on the backs of a R&B ballad that proved to be a radio smash (“Friend of Mine”), but her career started to slowly dissipate as the next generation of R&B divas (i.e, Beyonce’, Monica, Faith Evans) nabbed her limelight. She even tried to reinvent her career around a gospel album, 2006’s This Is Who I Am, which looked like a desperate attempt to cash in on the “secular-goes-gospel” movement sparked by Dave Hollister, Kenny Lattimore & Chante Moore and SWV’s Coko. Price is still rebuilding her camp on Kelly, her first R&B disc in eight years. She’s on a smaller label (Jackson, Mississippi-based, Southern blues and soul/catalog label Malaco Records) and passes production duties to Mary Mary’s longtime producer Warryn Campbell and Shep Crawford, but the reinvention works in Price’s favor. The content is beefier, heartier and loaded with bale of rich soul and urban R&B. It’s the kind of foundation that works best on her Whitney/Aretha pipes. On a much more remarkable note, Kelly finds the singer attacking almost everything synonymous to R&B’s ever-expanding timeline. She ogles with Tweet’s sexy R&B (“Himaholic”); “Not My Daddy” brings in Mint Condition’s Stokley to take us back to the smooth contemporary R&B of the Nineties; “Speechless” flirts with Mariah Carey’s breathy R&B and Prince’s synth-powered productions; “Vexed” jams with Honey Cone’s rhythms; “Lil Sumn-Sumn” is defined in Betty Wright sultriness and “The Rain” floats like a Diane Warren pop composition and screams aloud for crossover airplay. Price rarely executes an uptempo jam with the fierceness of her ballads, but she pulls off “And You Don’t Stop,” sampling War’s “Galaxy,” with the precision of a bad-ass disco queen. It’s almost impossible not to place this funky jam aside Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough.”

Only when Kelly bathes with Tyler Perry drama on “Tired” and when she embarrassingly wanders off into clichés (“Silly rabbit/Thought you knew that tricks were for kids”), the album takes a slight nosedive. But Kelly is a well-executed album, placing her in the company of live instrumentation and allowing her to use the aviation of Patti LaBelle. Thankfully, in the studio, she knows when to take off, control her altitude and when to land comfortably. She may very well still be in reinvention mode with her off-the-radar record home, but little does she know she’s just revealed the album of her career so far.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 03 May 2011
  • Label: My Block Records/Malaco
  • Producers: Warryn Campbell, Shep Crawford, Stokley, Jazz Nixon,
  • Spin This: “Not My Daddy,” “And You Don’t Stop,” “The Rain”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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