Just about any artist who survives long enough to get a
third or fourth album tries to promote it as some sort of departuremore
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 shes 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 shes doing straight-backs on her baby
cousins hair. From the outset, Make Me Over certainly does just that by
acting as the first truly upbeat thing shes 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 Coles 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 eraeven with the stupid namesand 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 doesnt really prove that the Pop-ish sound is a good look for her.
Ron Fairs influence is noticeably stronger on this album and a handful of
these tracks sound like demos for the Pussycat Dolls (Please Dont Stop,
Erotic). While those girls wouldnt have sung those records anywhere nearly
as well as Cole does, they wouldve 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 doesnt quite place her in a spot she can inhabit
comfortably over the long term, its not an outright failure. Cole is capable
of pulling off this act in a general sense but shes built for much
moreshes taking a respectable shot, just perhaps at the wrong target.
Keyshia Cole - "Playa Cardz Right" ft. TupacA Different Me