R. Kelly Love Letter

R. Kelly Love Letter
The hype surrounding R. Kelly's Love Letter is aimed at having you believe that it's unlike anything he's ever done before, as in: die-hard fans will be blown away by the song smith's vocal creativity and dexterity, while everyone else, relieved by the changes, will eagerly become a convert of the self-proclaimed king of R&B. Unfortunately, Love Letter, like fool's gold, eventually reveals that Kelly has done little to improve upon his weaknesses. He can still whip sound into something resembling a number one hit ― rife as it is with awkward pilfering that smacks of disingenuousness ― but he then somehow manages to pack in more clichés than a year's worth of Hallmark commercials. Beyond those stable trademarks though, it's noteworthy that he's chosen to swap "crass" for PG-13 "retro-class." Decking his Donny Hathaway- and Marvin Gaye-inspired ballads of love and romance with all the vintage trimmings, Kelly takes his aging fan base on an admittedly compelling stroll down '60s and '70s soul. (Jive/Sony)