In an era of declining songwriting skills and auto tune crooning R. Kelly embodies the best traditions of American music as a vocalist, songwriter and producer. He uses classic materials to create music as contemporary as Siri’s iPhone voice. Despite selling millions of recordings and writing classic songs for himself and many others, this Chicago based singer-songwriter continues to push his art forward with Write Me Back, a dynamic twelve song collection that is part of his extraordinary 2012 — The Year of the R.
Along with his remarkable new album, R. Kelly is publishing his first memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, and signed with the IFC Channel to add chapters to his innovative hip hop opera Trapped in the Closet, which was an early 21st century cultural phenomenon.
Write Me Back continues the homage to classic soul/R&B that distinguished 2010’s critically acclaimed Love Letter. But where that album celebrates the music of the ‘50s and ‘60s, this has a wider collection of musical inspirations, going to sounds that echo Ray Charles, while evoking the passionate magic of Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and Michael Jackson among many others. The content and the title of this new recording were definitely inspired by the triumph of the previous album.
The songs on Write Me Back do not simply pay homage to older styles, but evoke a myriad of influences at the same time and in the process create something pleasing and new. “I have many directions I still wanna go in musically,” he says of where he is creatively. “This just happened to be a direction I choose for now because the first album did so well people started asking me if I was gonna be doing any other songs like that.. Through those questions I found a second wind of inspiration in the area of doing the classic R&B type of songs.”
The tasty array of musical influences R. Kelly transforms and reinvents ranges through the history of classic soul. “Love Is,” “Share My Love” and “Lady Sunday” evoke the lush, danceable sound of Philadelphia. “Feeling Single” and “Believe That It’s So” effortlessly mash up echoes of Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. “All Rounds On Me” has a blues feel that Ray Charles would envy, while “Fool For You” has that classic Motown Sound. “Green Light” will make fans of the Isley Brothers happy, while “Party Jumpin’” captures the seriously fun late night spirit of a live Sam Cooke show. Both “When A Man Lies” and “Believe In Me” are powerhouse songs poised to join the canon of R. Kelly standards.