Kem - Intimacy

Kem
Kem-intimacy110.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Elegant, understated lyrics; sparce, sultry grooves and a hushed, yet hypnotic tenor----Kem is such an exact opposite of what many of today's hitmakers embody, that those who don't know better may pin him down as predictable. But what he proves with his latest release, entitled Intimacy: Album III, is that one doesn't have to employ an army of auto-tuning super-producers and glittery guest appearances to make a compelling collection of soul.

Elegant, understated lyrics; sparce, sultry grooves and a hushed, yet hypnotic tenor----Kem is such an exact opposite of what many of today's hitmakers embody, that those who don't know better may pin him down as predictable. But what he proves with his latest release, entitled Intimacy: Album III, is that one doesn't have to employ an army of auto-tuning super-producers and glittery guest appearances to make a compelling collection of soul.

Intimacy...provides just what its name implies: simple, yet sublime songs built on a foundation of masterful melodies and instrumentation. The tracks ebb and flow so seamlessly that it's hard to believe that there are only ten of them, but part of Kem's artistic prowess (like his other two CDs, this one is self-composed and produced) is that he makes each note and verse count, starting with the mellow "When I'm Lovin' You." His warm delivery is practically whispered against its buoyant melody, but never gets lost in translation: "You are the Santa Claus, and it's Christmastime, it's like a fantasy. I'm on a carpet ride/Over the rainbow, up to the water's edge. it's like a fairy tale, living inside my head. And I feel so fine/when I'm lovin' you."

Like a lover who's taken great pains to light the candles, chill the wine and arrange scented rose petals on silken sheets, Intimacy...unfolds at a languorous pace, yet explores the entire gamut of human emotions, such as that first flush of attraction ("Can You Feel It"), rekindling a dying flame ("Love Never Fails") and the frank, full-on seduction of "Human Touch," where he offers his body as a living sacrifice for her wanton pleasure and delight (are you fanning yourself yet?).  While some singers think that bragging about skills with a range of body parts is sexy, Kem caresses the senses with words that linger as the afterglow fades: "I give you all my heart/girl my sun sets, anywhere you are."

It's a rare moment when Kem displays the full strength of his vocal range, but when he does, the results are stirring and soulful: "Why Would You Stay" unfurls all of his faults and shortcomings -- "loved  a woman I barely knew, I must have been out of my mind" -- but offers a soaring plea as he begs her to stick around just long enough for him to redeem himself. "If It's Love" features the first of two guest appearances,  an inspired duet with Maurissa Rose that pairs his reedy tenor with her sumptuous soprano so expertly you'd think they'd been partners all along. "Golden Days" has an odd cadence at first, but Jill Scott's powerful prose quickly anchors it back on track. "You're On My Mind" is practically resplendent, filled with lushly-layered vocals, fluttering keys and percussion that sends Kem's declaration of devotion to heaven and beyond.

Is ....Album III  a bit predictable? Sometimes. Is it too short? Most definitely. But those will be quibbles or nitpicking from his fans, who will undoubtedly find that this third CD from the Nashville-born and Detroit-transplanted performer is a sho' nuff charm. Romantic, yet reverential; subtle, yet strong, Kem's brand of Intimacy envelopes the senses and leaves them clamoring all at once, the hallmark of an entertainer in full command of his artistic range and finesse.

By Melody Charles

Note: Kem announces tour with Ledisi and El DeBarge

 
Album of the Month - Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu
Choice Cut - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"
Song of the Month - Bryan Andrew Wilson - "Only You'

Leave a comment!