Kevon Edmonds - Who Knew (2009)

Kevon Edmonds
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Kevon Edmonds was undoubtedly one of the most underrated singers of the late 80s and 90s. With a bright, expressive voice that seemed to virtually pop out of the speakers, he was the key to most of the great hits of the group After 7, many penned by his older brother, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.  And when he went solo in 1999 with the album 24/7, he met or exceeded expectations by issuing one of the year's best discs -- an extremely melodic, enjoyable album brimming with pleasures like the hit title cut, the ballad "Baby Come To Me" and the duet with Babyface, "A Girl Like You."

Kevon Edmonds was undoubtedly one of the most underrated singers of the late 80s and 90s. With a bright, expressive voice that seemed to virtually pop out of the speakers, he was the key to most of the great hits of the group After 7, many penned by his older brother, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.  And when he went solo in 1999 with the album 24/7, he met or exceeded expectations by issuing one of the year's best discs -- an extremely melodic, enjoyable album brimming with pleasures like the hit title cut, the ballad "Baby Come To Me" and the duet with Babyface, "A Girl Like You."

Following such a strong opening as a solo act, few would have predicted that Edmonds would be on the sidelines for a full decade before recording his sophomore album, the newly released Who Knew. Issued on the indie label Make Entertainment, the disc teams Edmonds with family members and a posse of outside producers on what is mostly a collection of adult soul tunes designed to highlight his distinctive vocals.  Fortunately Edmonds is in fine voice, with his sweet tenor sounding just as it did two decades ago, and not at all like a guy in his early 40s.

Who Knew starts off in promising fashion, with the midtempo title track picking up where 24/7 left off, another fine showcase that fits Edmonds' vocal style well.  Nearly as impressive are the smooth second and third tracks, "She Loves Me" and "April Fools," and the strong uptempo "Hurts Too Much to Cry." Unfortunately, the second half of the disc is not nearly as engaging, with substantially weaker material that slows the album's momentum to a crawl.  Tracks like the sexed up autotune song "Callin'" and even the sweet closing ballad "If I Cry" are a big step down from the early numbers and barely rise above the mundane.  Exascerbating that problem is that, at a time when artists are packing their discs with 15-20 tracks, Who Knew is shockingly brief, with only eight songs and less than 35 minutes of music (that's going a little too old school).  Consequently, the brevity leaves little room for error, as there simply aren't enough strong cuts to offset the misses. 

For those fans (this reviewer included) who have been anxiously awaiting a new Kevon Edmonds album since Bill Clinton was President, Who Knew is a tease.  It has just enough good stuff to remind us what a special singer Kevon Edmonds is and to warrant some song downloads, but is neither long enough nor uniformly strong enough to fully satisfy. Moderately Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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