by Eddie J., Contributing Writer
Likes: Stubborn, Next Move, I Choose You.
Dislikes: Hey Sexy, Get It Right
Overall: a few elements of musical development, typical lyrical themes. Generally okay, but not extraordinary.
Keyshia Cole’s 5th album “Woman to Woman” treads regularly-traveled territory. It’s supposed to be specifically written for women with relationship troubles, which at this point in Cole’s career (as well as R&B’s rap sheet) is annoyingly redundant. With that in mind, the lyrics can be summed up as “I’m over you, but I love having sex with you…I want love, but love doesn’t want me…oh and I love you.” There is no real need to focus on Cole’s trite songwriting or lack of thematic elements, though. After releasing the same screwed up love-story for 4 other albums, it’s somewhat expected.
Musically, this album exhibits the very thing I hate about the current state of R&B music, while giving me a few glimmers of hope that these vices will soon be challenged by Cole. For example, the first 5 songs all exemplify everything you would expect from Keyshia Cole: forgettable hooks with “soul-filled” vocals and predictable beats, but then the electric piano of “Woman to Woman” comes in with a promising air of more interesting chords. The magic ends there unfortunately once she and featured artist Ashanti begin singing in a non-melodic, forgettable manner. After listening to “Woman,” I was going to make the statement that Keyshia Cole is probably one of the most uncreative artists out, both vocally and musically. Even mediocre talents like Rihanna can give us a gritty “Rated R” every once in a while to shake up the listening base, but Cole for some odd reason likes to stay in the same place. However, she proved me wrong 9 tracks into the album with the climax “Stubborn,” where she webs R&B and hip-hop club with dub step and Euro-pop (there’s even a moment for a good old fashioned “Jersey Shore” fist pump after the bridge). “Next Move” also peaks musical interest with a Broadway-like intro. Hopefully this will be Cole’s bridge into a new world of music that will make her more fascinating, because she pulls it off quite well.
Vocally, my original statement reigns true. For some reason, we only get 2 vocal textures: a low, composed, sometimes raspy tone and a loud, shout-like chest voice, all of which is of course assisted with pitch correction. Cole honestly sings too high in chest voice and it’s somewhat obvious that she won’t be able to pull off most of these songs live. The vocal crest of the album is “I Choose You” (which resembles “Love” from her debut album), containing a loud, shrill, strained chest voice with occasional switches into head voice. The song calls for a high head-voice note (ex. the end of “Speechless” by Beyonce`), but Keyshia refuses to provide it. Throughout the album, her technique is very questionable, and sadly, a male surpasses her range (ex. Elijah Blake in “Wonderland”). On the flip side, she allows the influences of Brandy to shine through her raspy tones. The background vocals are so remotely close to Brandy, you’d think she came in to add a few layers (ex. second verse of “Stubborn”).
Overall, I’d only suggest purchasing this album if you’re a huge Keyshia fan or want a somewhat good depiction of what Cole is about as an artist. Cole has a lot to improve on as a vocalist and songwriter. Hopefully, she’ll learn this in time for the next album.