If success is measured by the amount of accolades you receive and the respect of your peers and fans, then Keyshia Cole is one of the most successful R & B chanteuses right now. Having won multiple Grammy’s and being known as a great artist, writer and producer, Keyshia ended 2008 having achieved 3 no. 1 hits from her 2nd album, The Way It Is. Having the most watched show on BET (by the same title) is just icing on the cake.
Despite rave reviews and album sales, I feel like “the sophomore slump” affected Ms. Cole. Many of you may disagree with me due to the string of radio hits that showed otherwise. But for me the radio hits were the best songs on her album and when I was done playing those, I was disappointed. So when I heard that she was coming with a 3rd album I couldn’t help but think that it may not be up to par. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that there would be some chart topping singles on the album because she is very capable to satisfying our ears. Despite my dislike of her last release, an artist does not need a cohesive album full of great songs to prove that they are talented. A great album says nothing about an artist vocal skills or their ability to connect with listeners on a personal level. Heartfelt lyrics, strong vocal performances and a strong sense vulnerability is her advantage in this world of here today, gone tomorrow talent. But, by the time most artists reach the 3 rd album status, they’ve either leveled our artistically or they have fallen off slightly.
A Different Me
This is not the case for her 3rd studio album, A Different Me. There is a sense of urgency in the beginning of the album as if she’s trying to get her point across in reference to how she has changed and she’s not wasting any time conveying that message to listeners. The arrangement of instruments throughout this album is magnetic and you often feel yourself tuning the lyrics out and concentrating on the instrumental aspects of certain songs. Halfway through she slows it down a bit but it is still rather enjoyable while maintaining the constant them of sexiness that is not trashy but confident.
A stand out for me is Make Me Over originally recorded by Tina Turner . Keyshia’s delivery of this song makes you feel like your listening to her live and the horns add a jazzy feel to this great song. I can definitely appreciate an artist who not only knows their past, but doesn‘t have a problem paying homage to music greats. This appreciation is present in Playa Cardz Right which features a posthumous appearance from Tupac. Other Guest artists include Nas, Kanye West and a duet with Monica. While the album was produced by Ron Fair, Polow Da Don, the Trackmasters, The Runners, Kwame and Neffu, all songs were written or co-written by Keyshia.
As a person who does not like to be proven wrong, I must apologize to Ms. Cole for doubting her ability to produce an album full of great songs that I do not feel the urge to skip through. A Different Me, is just that and it was truly a joy to meet the new Keyshia Cole.