Love Letter (R. Kelly album)

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Love Letter
Studio album by R. Kelly
Released December 14, 2010
Recorded 2010
Genre R&B, soul
Length 60:12
Label Jive
Producer R. Kelly
R. Kelly chronology
Epic
(2009)
Love Letter
(2010)
Write Me Back
(2012)
Singles from Love Letter
  1. "When a Woman Loves"
    Released: September 7, 2010
  2. "Love Letter"
    Released: November 22, 2010
  3. "Radio Message"
    Released: 2011

Love Letter is the tenth studio album by American R&B recording artist R. Kelly, released on December 14, 2010, by Jive Records. It was written and produced entirely by Kelly. A departure from his previous work's contemporary sound and sexually explicit themes, Love Letter incorporates classicist soul music influences and features chivalrous lyrics concerning love and forgiveness.

The album debuted at number six on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 154,000 copies in its first week. It produced two singles that attained respectable charting on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Upon its release, Love Letter received positive reviews from most music critics, who complimented its classically minded style and praised Kelly for his singing and songwriting. The album has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and, as of March 2011, has sold 496,600 copies in the United States.

Composition[edit]

Love Letter is an homage to the classic soul music of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.[1][2] Kelly was heavily inspired by such soul artists as Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder.[3]

Release and promotion[edit]

Prior to its physical CD release on December 14, Love Letter was released as a digital download on December 10, 2010 to the iTunes Store, which included the album with the iTunes LP format feature.[4] The album's first single "When a Woman Loves" peaked at number 16 and spent seven weeks on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[5] It charted at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100.[6] The second single "Love Letter" also spent seven weeks and peaked at number 13 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs.[5] A three-part video documentary was released in promotion of the album, featuring footage of R. Kelly discussing the album and its conception.[3] The third single "Number One Hit" reached number 83 and has spent four weeks on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs.[7]

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number six on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 154,000 copies in the United States.[8] It serves as Kelly's thirteenth US top-10 charting album.[8] It also entered at number two on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and at number three on its Digital Albums chart.[9][10] On March 1, 2011, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of 500,000 copies.[11] As of March 30, 2011, Love Letter has sold 496,600 copies in the United States.[12] In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 39 on the Top 40 RnB Albums chart.[13] It charted at number 26 in the Netherlands.[14]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
The A.V. Club B+[15]
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly B[16]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[17]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[18]
Pitchfork Media 8.2/10[19]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[20]
Slant Magazine 2/5 stars[21]
Spin 8/10[22]

Love Letter received generally positive reviews from music critics.[23] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 77, based on 17 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[23] Allmusic writer Andy Kellman called it "easily the least sexually charged album in [Kelly's] discography, ideal for those who admire him as a singer, arranger, and producer but tune out the fantastical come-ons".[1] Los Angeles Times writer August Brown complimented its "slow-simmered, grown-man emoting" and Kelly's "melodicism and vocal powers".[18] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commended the album's "gentle adult-contemporary R&B" and Kelly for "singing as vigorously as ever, on songs that are some of the most elegant of his career", commenting that its songs are "in essence, secular spirituals, bombastic and warm, meant not to raise an eyebrow".[24] Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot noted its classicist musical sources and viewed it as a departure from Kelly's previous work, stating "for the most part Kelly forgoes the sing-songy minimalism that made him rich in favor of more developed melodies, fully orchestrated arrangements and lyrics that are as much spiritual as sexual".[2]

Pitchfork Media's Jess Harvell called Kelly's singing "a marvel throughout" and stated, "A few outright and faithful homages to the Marvin/Smokey era aside, Kelly smears these period references—tremulous Hi Records guitars, popping SOS Band bass, the percussion of Michael Jackson's disco years—into unexpected combinations".[19] Mikael Wood of The Village Voice called it a "commitment-pimping [...] classically minded r&b album" and commented that "much of which plays like a modest about-face from Untitled's unabashed raunch".[25] Maura Johnston of Spin praised Kelly's "exquisite phrasing and unparalleled ability to belt", commenting that "his decision to ditch the club and retreat to a more conventionally romantic setting allows him to let his voice take center stage".[22] Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe called the album "a back-to-basics collection of beautifully sung and arranged tracks emphasizing romance and devotion", writing that its music "complements Kelly’s vocal flights and impeccable, expressive phrasing".[26] The A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin described it as "proudly old-fashioned soul [...] warm, reassuringly familiar" and called Kelly "a consummate showman".[15]

In a mixed review, Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson found Kelly's sentiments "generic" and described its music as "vanilla-smooth, grown-folks grooves that hearken not just to stepping in the name of love, but also some of the faux-Motown simulations from that most mechanical of recent musicals, Dreamgirls".[21] New York writer Nitsuh Abebe called its songs "the audio equivalent of buying flowers" and interpreted its theme of forgiveness to be directed at "the alleged capacity of women to forgive men for all failures, so long as a little knee-bending and charm is involved".[27] Rolling Stone observed a "relatively novel concept", but commented that "it's a testament to Kelly's ingenuity as a singer and songwriter that Love Letter doesn't fizzle — even with the fly zipped up on his wildest eccentricities".[20] Hugh Montgomery of The Observer wrote that "It's pastiche, certainly, but Kelly's expressive croon carries the day: equal parts honeyed and rasping, and bristling with a sincerity that reaches its zenith on the spine-tingling, a cappella finale of 'When a Woman Loves'".[28]

Accolades[edit]

Jon Caramanica of The New York Times ranked the album number nine on his year-end top albums list for 2010.[29] Love Letter was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, set to be presented at the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012.[30] The song "Radio Message" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance.[30]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and produced by R. Kelly.[31]

No. Title Length
1. "Love Letter (Prelude)"   0:49
2. "Love Letter"   4:49
3. "Number One Hit"   4:24
4. "Not Feelin’ the Love"   3:34
5. "Lost in Your Love"   4:34
6. "Just Can’t Get Enough"   3:10
7. "Taxi Cab"   4:00
8. "Radio Message"   3:50
9. "When a Woman Loves"   5:10
10. "Love Is" (featuring K.Michelle) 3:24
11. "Just Like That"   3:19
12. "Music Must Be a Lady"   4:35
13. "A Love Letter Christmas"   5:44
14. "How Do I Tell Her?"   4:20
15. "You Are Not Alone" (hidden track) 4:29

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Love Letter adapted from Allmusic.[33]

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Love Letter (R. Kelly album) at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b c Kot, Greg (December 12, 2010). Review: Love Letter. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  3. ^ a b Love Letter - The Documentary (Part 1 of 3). Vevo. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  4. ^ Love Letter by R. Kelly - Download Love Letter on iTunes. iTunes Store. Retrieved on 2010-12-18.
  5. ^ a b R. Kelly Album & Song Chart History – R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  6. ^ R. Kelly Album & Song Chart History – Hot 100. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-12-24.
  7. ^ R. Kelly Music News & Info | Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved on 2011-05-27.
  8. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (December 22, 2010). Swift Back at No. 1 on Billboard 200, 'Michael' Bows at No. 3. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-12-22.
  9. ^ R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Week of January 01, 2011. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-12-24.
  10. ^ Digital Albums – Week of January 01, 2011. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-12-24.
  11. ^ a b "Love Letter certification". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  12. ^ Langhorne, Cyrus (March 9, 2011). CHRIS BROWN'S FAME SHOOTS HIM TO NO. 1, JENNIFER HUDSON CRUSHES HER COMPETITION, GUCCI MANE ICES TOP 20. SOHH. Retrieved on 2011-03-30.
  13. ^ a b R&B ALBUMS TOP 40 - 1st January 2011. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved on 2010-12-26.
  14. ^ a b dutchcharts.nl - R. Kelly - Love Letter. Hung Meiden. Retrieved on 2011-02-11.
  15. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan (January 4, 2011). Review: Love Letter. The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2011-02-05.
  16. ^ Dolan, Jon (December 8, 2010). Review: Love Letter. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  17. ^ Cragg, Michael (January 6, 2011). Review: Love Letter. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2011-01-07.
  18. ^ a b Brown, August (December 13, 2010). Review: Love Letter. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  19. ^ a b Harvell, Jess (January 7, 2011). Review: Love Letter. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2011-01-07.
  20. ^ a b Weiner, Jonah (December 14, 2010). Review: Love Letter. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  21. ^ a b Henderson, Eric (December 12, 2010). Review: Love Letter. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  22. ^ a b Johnston, Maura (December 17, 2010). Review: Love Letter. Spin. Retrieved on 2010-12-17.
  23. ^ a b Love Letter Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-02-28.
  24. ^ Caramanica, Jon (December 14, 2010). Review: Love Letter. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  25. ^ Wood, Mikael (December 15, 2010). R&B Serenity Now: R. Kelly, Ne-Yo, and Others Keep the Quiet-Storm Flame Alive. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  26. ^ Capobianco, Ken (December 20, 2010). Review: Love Letter. The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2010-12-21.
  27. ^ Abebe, Nitsuh (December 15, 2010). Review: Love Letter. New York. Retrieved on 2010-12-18.
  28. ^ Montgomery, Hugh (December 12, 2010). Review: Love Letter. The Observer. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  29. ^ Caramanica, Jon (December 16, 2010). Pop Top 10, Rick Ross, Kanye West, Taylor Swift and More. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-12-18.
  30. ^ a b "Nominees and Winners". GRAMMY. The Recording Academy. Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  31. ^ Overview: Love Letter. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  32. ^ Love Letter【CD】-R Kelly. HMV. Retrieved on 2010-12-20.
  33. ^ Credits: Love Letter. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
  34. ^ R. Kelly Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-12-24.
  35. ^ R. Kelly Album & Song Chart History – R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-12-24.

External links[edit]