ALBUM REVIEW: Keyshia Cole – A Different Me

Just about any artist who survives long enough to get a

third or fourth album tries to promote it as some sort of departure—more

mature, more casual, more soulful, more fun, more classic, more modern, more

whatever. Most of them are lying and merely offer more of the same but, to her

credit, Keyshia Cole is making a genuine effort to retool herself with A

Different Me [Geffen]. The new Keyshia

still needs a little work, but she’s at least on the right track.

 

Generally, Cole is aiming to move past the image of a girl

gabbing about her no-good man while she’s doing straight-backs on her baby

cousin’s hair. From the outset, “Make Me Over” certainly does just that by

acting as the first truly upbeat thing she’s ever done. “Let It Go” was

something you could wave a glass of cheap champagne to but the first couple of

songs here are (in theory) truly designed for dance.

 

Since A Different Me

is effectually Cole’s attempt at a Pop record, the soulful girl who used to

belt her pain out to the cheap seats takes a bit of a back seat. Even when Cole

does still “skew urban,” it feels a little more like those late ’90s Bad Boy

records that led the crossover movement for so many R&B singers. “Oh-oh,

Yeah-Yea” with Nas and “Playa Cardz Right” with 2Pac are great throwbacks to

that era—even with the stupid names—and “Oh-oh” especially is a

top-tier track for both the album and performer.

 

While her commitment to the concept buys her a little

credit, she doesn’t really prove that the Pop-ish sound is a good look for her.

Ron Fair’s influence is noticeably stronger on this album and a handful of

these tracks sound like demos for the Pussycat Dolls (“Please Don’t Stop,”

“Erotic”). While those girls wouldn’t have “sung” those records anywhere nearly

as well as Cole does, they would’ve felt more natural.

 

Keyshia Cole deserves the chance to blossom and grow into

the perennial act that she could potentially be so while A Different Me doesn’t quite place her in a spot she can inhabit

comfortably over the long term, it’s not an outright failure. Cole is capable

of pulling off this act in a general sense but she’s built for much

more—she’s taking a respectable shot, just perhaps at the wrong target.

Keyshia Cole – “Playa Cardz Right” ft. TupacA Different Me

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