Tweet - Charlene (2016)

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Tweet - Charlene

Long before there were news feeds, hash tags and trending topics, R&B lovers were already accustomed to buzzing about a particular Tweet, AKA Charlene Keys. Her broken alliance with a late 90's Jodeci-connected group, Suga, initially made the church-trained singer-songwriter feel doubtful about her musical destiny, until connecting for a couple of tracks for the likes of Timbaland, Ginuwine, Magoo and Missy Elliott. A couple of years later, Tweet established herself as an artist to check for with her GoldMind 2002 solo debut, Southern Hummingbird, which shot to the top of the charts with the teasing, tangy hit "Oops (Oh My)." Her 2005 follow-up, It's Me Again, was just as appealing, but lacked the presence and promotion of the first CD, and Tweet stepped away for spiritual reflection, to parent her daughter Tawana (today a gospel performer in her own right), and become grounded again as a woman. 

Tweet - Charlene

Long before there were news feeds, hash tags and trending topics, R&B lovers were already accustomed to buzzing about a particular Tweet, AKA Charlene Keys. Her broken alliance with a late 90's Jodeci-connected group, Suga, initially made the church-trained singer-songwriter feel doubtful about her musical destiny, until connecting for a couple of tracks for the likes of Timbaland, Ginuwine, Magoo and Missy Elliott. A couple of years later, Tweet established herself as an artist to check for with her GoldMind 2002 solo debut, Southern Hummingbird, which shot to the top of the charts with the teasing, tangy hit "Oops (Oh My)." Her 2005 follow-up, It's Me Again, was just as appealing, but lacked the presence and promotion of the first CD, and Tweet stepped away for spiritual reflection, to parent her daughter Tawana (today a gospel performer in her own right), and become grounded again as a woman. 

Luckily, thanks to steadily performing over the years and having a loyal fan base, Tweet has been able to reemerge: a 2013 EP, Simply Tweet, was well-received enough to embolden Ms. Keys to return to the studio. The result, Charlene, is her third full-length CD...and one that's well-worth the wait.  

For those who are already familiar with Tweet, what Charlene reveals is an updated, yet instantly-recognizable collection of songs----all 15 co-written and executive-produced by Keys---that follow her skillfully-rendered, gently-emoted, traditionally-soulful template. Surrounding herself with the same collaborators with whom she started (Nisan Stewart, John Jubu Smith, Charlie Bereal, Craig Brockman, Missy Elliott and Timbaland), Tweet invites listeners into musical moments that inspire, empower and span the romantic spectrum. At times, she's sprung and 'all up in her feelings' about her boo (the coyly-delivered "Magic," the wistful "Neva Should Let You Go"), even if he tests her patience with too many questions: constantly asking where he stands and what she wants? Nah bruh. "......that's not attractive," she sighs over piano and a scritch-scratch of a beat. Welp....

If there's a need to 'diss-and-dismiss,' Tweet is woman enough to make it happen and skilled enough to make it catchy in the process: the hypnotic "Got Whatcha Want" acknowledges the sweet flowers and pretty words, yet won't allow him to forget the promises he broke, and throwing out an ultimatum to get Ms. Keys to cooperate ("Won't Hurt Me")? Epic fail. The most infectious 'get gone' mission statement comes from Timbaland and Missy Elliott, who cook up the undulating, head-nodding club jam "Somebody Else Will." Reminiscent in tone to Monica's "So Gone," at the end, even as the tempo stills, the mic drops and the fool disappears down the horizon, Tweet chants a mantra over lone guitar strings that every scorned woman should take heed of: "If you don't love me, don't have to love me/somebody else can love me right." 

Fully aware of her power ("Created For This"), willing to share hard-earned wisdom ("The Hardest Thing”) and open to the possibilities of love and vulnerability ("Priceless," "Addicted"), Tweet coasts within, and owns, her distinctive artistic lane. Charlene is not just an addition to the discography, but a reminder of how crucial her tender trill and searing lyrical prose remain in the all-too-often overwrought genre of R&B. Cue it up, plug it in and enjoy...this is one special Tweet that deserves to go viral. Highly Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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