Review Roundup: R. Kelly – ‘Love Letter’

Love Letter

R. Kelly tones down the raunchiness in favor of making sweet tender love on his Motown-inspired album Love Letter. The R&B lothario reminds listeners that he’s still got it with the soaring singles “When a Woman Loves” and “Love Letter,” plus its accompanying remix “A Love Letter Christmas.” But did Kellz have the critics singing his praises? Find out below.

Entertainment Weekly: The latest from the king of sex-mad R&B is a refreshingly tasteful foray into classic soul and PG lovemaking. On Love Letter, R. Kelly does falsetto valentines, flirty Motown bounce, even a Christmas remix of single “Love Letter” that involves zero funny business under the mistletoe. B

The New York Times: Never less than impressive, in places, it’s phenomenal, with Mr. Kelly singing as vigorously as ever, on songs that are some of the most elegant of his career. And Love Letter is notable for what’s largely absent: Mr. Kelly’s id, which has otherwise gone untamed—on record, at least—for the better part of the last two decades.

USA Today: Aside from the hanky-panky in the uproarious “Taxi Cab,” R. Kelly sticks to fairly tame, if occasionally melodramatic, expressions of love and longing, echoing the seductive powers of Marvin Gaye. 3 out of 4

Los Angeles Times: “When a Woman Loves” gracefully nods to Otis Redding’s “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” while giving Kells a smoky, tempered backdrop to tap decades of undeserving-man ballads. Wait for the pleading a capella bridge, which goes on three times as long as it needs to—and it scorches. 3.5 out of 4

Rolling Stone: On his 11th studio album, Kelly experiments with a relatively novel concept for him: restraint. Over ballads fleet enough for wedding receptions but too slow for clubs, he’s the consummate gentleman, cooing and pining respectfully. 3 out of 5

The Washington Post: He’s historically pushed R&B forward, stretching the limits of language and grandeur. But Kelly, who wrote and produced everything here, is operating in a style that is fatally loyal to his forbears.

Boston Herald: Kelly’s flair for the dramatic is well-documented and his questionable extracurricular activities may have led to scrutiny (and court dates), but his musical ability has remained uncompromised throughout, and here he operates in uncharacteristically classy form. B+

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Number One Hit,” “Taxi Cab,” “When a Woman Loves,” “A Love Letter Christmas”

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40 Comments

  1. MusicIsTJ_Heart

    love this album great to see its getting good reviews.

    [Reply]

  2. saio

    like trey said
    D.O.K (death of kellz)
    usher, trey & brizzy way better than kellz

    [Reply]

  3. Phoenix_Wright

    classiccc! surprised he didn’t get any perfect scores. a few close though

    [Reply]

  4. OnlyBoy

    In the age of new artist, new faces, and all my young artist doing there thing, to me… it feels like these older artist are trying to dam hard… idk i never like R. kelly like that but i think that he needs to sit his ass down for a GOOD minute! Except JLO! I Love her haha! Bring on the hate!

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  5. Jo

    Saio, you’re an idiot, or you must be a little teenage kid that likes that fake crap, but R Kelly is the King of R&B, those fools have nothing on him, he makes real music, he’s had way more chart toppers, way more hits than all those combined, and way more accomplished. You gotta slap yourself, he was just named Billboard’s top artist of the decade. Kellz cannot be touched, those kids cannot even see him, wdf is wrong with you. Nuff said.

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  6. H.

    He did get a 5 star rating from examiner.com… They did the album justice. Also missing is 3 out 4 stars from the Chicago Tribune

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  7. TheOne1

    ABC News also gave it an incredible review.

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  8. Kellz #1 Fan

    the examiner is not a credible source, just anyone with a computer. LOL!

    these are good reviews. stop complaining people.

    [Reply]

  9. saio

    @Jo f**k off tou a f@g
    kellz is not the king of R&B
    usher is the king

    [Reply]

  10. Will

    This album is a MASTERPIECE. It should get perfect scores cause the album is the best r&b album of the past couple years hands down. And to whoever said Trey Songz is better, what in the hell are u smoking? R-kelly is who trey songz wants to be like, who inspired him to do music. R-kelly will forever be the king of R&B and thats a fact.

    [Reply]

  11. saio

    @Jo f**k off you a f@g
    kellz is not the king of R&B
    usher is the king

    [Reply]

  12. David

    R.Kelly is number one on itunes and will be number one on Billboard enough said.

    [Reply]

  13. saio

    @will f**k you to
    remind you kellz use auto-tune back in 2009
    kellz is over

    [Reply]

  14. urbanbeats

    there’ll always be haters , without giving the album a chance by listening to it . to talk about something without knowing it is just bullshit ! I’ve heard the complete album and i know that’s one of the realest & best r&b albums i’ve heard in while ! you gotta check this one out ! nobody can touch r. kelly musically (just check his performance on the soultrain awards) and nobody has a voice even close to his one !

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  15. OnlyBoy

    Kelz has more number ones that trey and them cause he is ancient! I dont like him and he needs to sit his ass down… @SAIO trey songz was right DOK!!! lmao

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  16. Kellz4Eva

    @saio according to billboard R Kelly is the King Of RNB No.1 on The Top 50 R&B / Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years

    [Reply]

  17. Chri$

    This album got 15 sick songs. love this album!
    Love Letter on the top 10 of the year:)

    [Reply]

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  19. ghetto

    kell’s 4eva. one of the greatest albums among the tp2s.

    [Reply]

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  21. KINGKELLZ

    @SAIO

    Bitch, you gimmick worshiping ugly bitch. R. Kelly is the King of R&B.

    [Reply]

  22. ish

    @saio
    i dont no hw old u r, bt i do no u r a thick piece of shit. How is usher da king of r n b?? hez gud but no where near r kelly. I can goo on all day bout kellz bt i wont. If u read dis, answer dis 4 me, ‘ When has usher, writtien, produced, arranged and sung a number 1 hit’ nuff sed
    kellz aint da king of r n b….hez da king of music nuff sed
    p.s @jo im 17 lol

    [Reply]

  23. Kay Tee

    Saio u need brain surgery. R. Kelly is the undisputed King of R&B. The guy is a musical genius ever Usher and MJ knew that fact.

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  24. Kay Tee

    @Ish u got it more than ryt. Saio must have been born after the year 2002

    [Reply]

  25. tcarr

    Man
    I LOVeee the NEW CD! It comes out 12/14 go get it, if you “Like” his facebook page you can listen for free!

    [Reply]

  26. Faith

    shut up @saio Usher is no longer Truely a Rnb artist. Have you even listened to His latest album? shockingly poor considering his past achievments, However Kellz As much as I hate to say it is still on point with the Rnb game and seems to have kept relativly the same

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  27. D. Kellz

    Ok i was not going to comment but being that im a die hard R. Kelly fan i have to lets set the record striaght for everyone that knows this already R. has 13 platinum records fact! produced for michael jackson and whitney houston and the isleys enough said fact! has sold out tours over the world fact! has nothing to prove to anybody the man is a genious when it comes to music and producing but like i always say each person in this world has different taste so if they dont like love letter or R. kelly then so be it no need to fuss and argue back in forth his record proves itself and if youdont believe me check his record sales and producing list! R. Kelly is THE KING OF R&B! Wether you want to like it or not and also he has produced for Usher, Trey Songz, and Chris Brown of which i all like but i lost respect for Trey after he said what he said but he is no where near Kellz! Usher is the prince of R&B! Chris Brown is also a good artist as well but respect a legend and what he has done in this R&B game its not about who is better or who sales more or who album flops because honestly R. Kelly makes albums now becuase he loves music the sales dont hurt his pockets his like Michale Jordan he has nothing to prove when you have 6 rings! Just like Kobe Bryant he has 5 rings nothing to prove anymore they love what they do so R. kelly keep making that great music i love you im one of your biggest fans and i respect you and also may all the other R&B artist do as well. THE KING OF R&B!!

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  28. oldschoolfool

    I love this album. He goes back to the old school. I have major respect for the singers of the past. Today’s artists relay on too much auto-tuning and other stuff. This is the best album that I heard all year. No disrespect to Nicki or Kanye.

    [Reply]

  29. CDRC

    saio, you done lost your mind! when those artist start writing & producing their OWN albums, MOVIE soundtracks & other artist, going platinum EVERY time, then the argument will begin. you must be a youngster. Kells been #1 since ’91!

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  30. Brittney

    R. Kelly’s “Love Letter”, Tank’s “Now or Never”, and Lyfe’s “I Still Believe” are the best R&B albums out right now in my opinion.

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  31. veds

    well said D. kellz. @saio sit your ignorant ass down. you dont even know anything. how can u compare r kelly and usher. R.Kelly is the R in Rnb. king

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  32. LR

    JO you are so right… people don’t understand real MUSIC …. and especially R&B…. I miss the days of BoyzIIMen, Jodeci, KCI & JoJo, ect… people get the point…. I’m 22 but I appreciate great music. =/ sadly this generation doesn’t… Soulja Boy, Floka… so sad.

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  33. 6 Times

    The reason I called myself 6 times is because I know winner when I see one, Like The Pittsburg Steelers has 6 rings. R. Kelly is the King of R&B. The Late Great Marvin Gaye Passed That Tourch to him. Like my man said everyone has an opion if its stupid or not…We also for gor to mention that Kellz also wrote for Celine Dione one of the top performers in the world. Love Letter is an instant classic…Kellz will win A Grammy for “When A Woman Loves.

    [Reply]

  34. MILLA

    Everybody, lets not get emotionally involved with Saio’s or anyone elses comments please. He’s a child and he knows what he’s doing, if you noticed he hasn’t said anything else. He’s just happy to see us rant and explain something that’s irrelevant. “Love Letter” is the best R&B/Soul album of 2010 and probably within the last couple of years. R.Kelly is King of R&B period!!!

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  35. happison

    r kelly music leaves u horney or wants to go to church no one can do it lyke him

    [Reply]

  36. Mikey

    Cannot stop listening to this album! Amazing stuff! Hope you get the recognition you deserve man…love the mj-ish taxi cab

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  37. catherine

    i love r.kelly anything he puts his hands on turn into gold…..

    [Reply]

  38. kay

    i really hav to say tht r kelly will forever remain king. this album blows me away. wat tht fart head of a kid doesnt get is the fact that r kelly dnt have to prove anythin anymore. he is flawless on this album. he is a walking talking music encyclopedia. he is always true to music and for that he will forever be my rnb king.

    [Reply]

  39. amos

    The first time i see these words on an album cover. “all songs produced, written and aranged by R. Kelly”

    Please note there is no “except where otherwise indicated”. Confidence!!!!

    Super CD

    [Reply]

  40. Seun

    This wat make R Kelly differ 4rm d rest r&b stars. He compose, arrange & produce at same time. Good album. Keep it up kels.

    [Reply]

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