Album II

Studio Album by released in 2005
Album II's tracklist:
Find Your Way (Back in My Life)
Into You
I Can't Stop Loving You
Without You
Set You Free
I'm in Love
True Love
Each Other
You Might Win
I Get Lifted

Album II review

Nashville-born, Detroit-based singer/songwriter/musician/producer Kem Owens is a smooth, spiritually oriented R&B artist inspired by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and Grover Washington Jr. His self-released debut, Kemistry, sold 10,000 copies, and it was eventually picked up by Motown for nationwide release. Kemistry won critics and the public over with its throwback soulful groove and heartfelt love ballads. The album reached the Top 20 of the Hip-Hop/R&B Albums chart. Its follow-up, Album II, came out in May of 2005.

Kem plays his soul-and-jazz-juiced R&B like a man who has lived through more than most of us, and indeed he has: he's an artist who was once reduced to sleeping on Detroit park benches while battling addiction. With the release of Album II, though, the sad stories need circulate no longer – all that's required to get swept up, off, and away by these tracks is a taste for solid R&B minus the hip-hop sideshow. Coaxing vocal cords more pliable than the face of Jim Carey into unexpected directions, the Chaka Khan sound-alike – who also occasionally ventures into George Benson territory – showers tenderness over each of these songs, sauntering into some notes with suave sophistication and sneaking up on others. Though I Can't Stop Lovin' You is the song throwing sparks amongst the quiet storm crowd, check his stretchy tenor on Into You and I'm in Love, both so deeply felt they'll send the lovelorn swooning. The best smoothies on this collection include Heaven, Set You Free and the inspiring You Might Win featuring a harmonica solo by the legendary Stevie Wonder. Kem's music features smooth Al Jarreau-like vocals, Sade instrumentation, gorgeous melodies, intoxicating chord changes, and top-notch musicianship.

Kem is a rarity in new millenium R&B music. He writes, arranges and produces his own songs without any help, and his albums have no samples, guest rappers or drum machines chugging in the background. He is as out of place with 2005's Album II as he was with his debut, 2003's Kemistry. His kind of R&B is kicked-back with sparse arrangements made elegantly rich with starlit keyboards, subtle guitar flicks, and feminine vocals. Understated but assured, his vocals exhibit a lot of range despite almost always remaining at the volume of a bedroom whisper. So he's really out place in the early 2000s, not stylistically disparate from what you'd hear late at night on a soul station in the late '70s or early '80s. But Album II proves that you don't need a big name producer or cameo appearances by every rapper out there to make a great R&B album.

Rate review2.82
Total votes - 90

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