Love Letter

R. Kelly is R&B's reigning king of outrageousness: Whether inspiring listeners to reach for the sky ("I Believe I Can Fly") or the Astroglide ("In the Kitchen"), he can always be counted on to deliver horny double-entendres and vocal acrobatics. But on his 11th studio album, Kelly experiments with a novel concept: restraint. Kelly is the consummate gentleman on the PG-rated Love Letter: The sunny title track finds him giving praise to "sweet dreams, butterflies, holding hands," and on "When a Woman Loves," a retro-soul ode to fidelity, Kelly's gritty intensity evokes Wilson Pickett. Much of Love Letter is sleekly tuneful, and it's a testament to Kelly's musical ingenuity that the songs don't fizzle even with the fly zipped up on his wildest eccentricities.

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