Kem – Intimacy – Review

22 08 2010

I bet Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air likes Kem’s third album for Motown, Intimacy. It’s a classy collection of soulful, jazzy songs that’d fit nicely alongside Uncle Phil’s Isley Brothers and Al Green mixtape. I can see him going out for an anniversary meal, probably some fancy seafood place with a subtle nautical theme, and pulling a copy of the soul crooner’s CD from the glovebox on the drive home, putting it on at a moderate volume, getting Aunt Viv in the mood for some sweet intimacy. Big Philly Style, naturally!

Kem’s Intimacy is a beautifully constructed album, full of exquisitely produced smooth soul with a timeless, confident sound that pays no mind to current soul/R&B trends. Over the past three albums, Kem has undoubtedly crafted his own brand of instantly recognizable jazz-inflected soul. It’s quite something for an artist to make such restrained, mellow and subtle music and still stand out from the crowd. Kem is certainly unique.

It’s encouraging to see Kem’s mature brand of soul music released on a major label and apparently selling well. In many ways, Intimacy is hugely unfashionable. It’s romantic, restrained and relaxed, delivered without any posturing or headline grabbing producers or collaborators (although Mr Consistency, Rex Rideout, aids on production this time around). Any self-respecting soul fan will want to check it out.

We previously raved over the single, Why Would You Stay. It’s undoubtedly the album highlight. This stirring ballad, complete with a beautiful string arrangement by Motown legend David J.Vann de Pitt, still warrants some major rewind action. It will definitely feature in my top 10 tracks come the end of the year. Other strong cuts include the breezy You’re On My Mind, the stripped vocal tour de force of Love Never Fails, the midtempo jazzy bubbler If It’s Love with Maurissa Rose and the Al Jarreau inspired, Jill-Scott starring Golden Days.

Intimacy is subtitled Album III, and it does feel like a continuation of his previous excellent Motown albums. In fact, put all three albums in a playlist, set to random and you could be fooled into thinking that you’re just listening to one long ass album of high quality mature soul music. The quality doesn’t dip across all three Kem albums, pressing the case for this latest release to be retitled Consistency.

You can get the album on at a decent price. It’s a solid album well worth your pennies. However, if you’re in the UK, forget it (currently it’s £27.99 on Amazon’s UK site – that’ll be $43 thank you very much!!!). Due to ridiculous major label nonsense, it’s pretty much impossible to get your mitts on a copy over here. I wonder what UK soul fans will do to get a copy? What a ridiculous state of affairs for one of the most in-demand soul albums of 2010!



One response

31 08 2010

US Billboard Album straight in at # 2!

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