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CD Review: R. Kelly 

Love Letter (Jive)

R. Kelly drops the freaky shit on his 10th album, settling instead into the role of a smooth old-school R&B singer for grown-up lovers. And he slides into it comfortably. With the subject matter toned down, Love Letter mostly falls back on Kelly's basic vocal, production, and songwriting talents, all of which are on strong display in songs like "When a Woman Loves" and "Number One Hit." The title tune is actually touching (and surprising to hear from a guy who once sang "I'm about to take my key and stick it in the ignition," which was not a car song). There's nothing groundbreaking on Love Letter — Kelly sticks to classic soul sounds throughout, delivering an album for lovers who aren't necessarily into groupie sex. Still, what's up with the bizarre "A Love Letter Christmas"? Nobody will be listening to that one come summer. — Gifford

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