At last! An album which takes me on a journey. Cohesive, compact, engaging and very “now”, Kelis’ Flesh Tone is an album the talented singer-songwriter always deserved but never made. Recently signing with Interscope Records under will.i.am Music Group, should prove to be a wise business decision after having found some success with Arista Records.
I’ve always been supportive of Kelis, but I will be the first to admit that even some of her best albums, including 400k-selling Tasty which featured massive hit Milkshake (500k copies sold), have been patchy at best. This is an issue with artists who are dependent on collaborations with multiple producers, winding up with what sounds like a Mix CD versus an actual album. This of course does not plague Flesh Tone.
At just nine tracks - a move I am in favour of with artists of late - and clocking in at under 38 minutes, the album is Kelis’ first foray into electro-dance pop and she does it convincingly. Although I’m not certain how many of her earlier fans will feel about her change in direction, surely she will be winning many new fans over with sublime tracks like Home, 4th of July, 22nd Century and Brave which musically would fit on any Kylie Minogue or Britney Spears album, but it is Kelis’ distinct vocals and effortless lyrical ability which transport these tracks above and beyond her contemporaries. Each track is a moment and a concept linked together beautifully with segues versus those ridiculous interludes we often hear on Urban albums - pointing finger at you, Janet Jackson.
Red-hot DJ/producer David Guetta lends a vote of confidence, no doubt with the assistance of will.i.am, in Kelis’ comeback contributing two masterful tracks including dancefloor smash Acapella and Scream. The latter takes queues from M|A|R|R|S’ 1987 hit Pump Up The Volume, including the same type of arpeggio piano lines which made Kelly Rowland’s 2009 hit When Love Takes Over so memorable. And one cannot ignore Disco House-stomper Song for the Baby dedicated warmly to her son Knight - like Acapella - veering the focus away from the future only slightly, with Time Machine-like agility. A perfect close to a perfect album.
Kelis’ Flesh Tone is sublime. The album will be released in Europe May 27, 2010 and surface in North America July 6, 2010. Grade: A
Listen to Song for the Baby in full below (audio content owned by Universal Music):