Til the Morning (released Nov. 8, 2011)
NEW KEEEEF! Looks like I got a belated birthday present!
Keith’s 11th studio album was originally was to be named Open Invitation, but he graciously stepped aside after learning that was the name of Tyrese’s new set. Keith, as always, is a humanitarian. But that’s what we’ve come to expect and Til the Morning is exactly what you’d expect from my boy – an hour of baby-making music. Forget the world’s 7 billionth baby, next year this time we’ll be on baby No. 15 billion, thanks to Keith.
The album opener “Candy Store” is a nostalgic cut where Keith reminisces about young love, which is a somewhat new topic for him. Its easy groove sets the tone for the album. The tempo only picks up occasionally, like the fun “Lady Du Jour” and “Getaway,” where Keith lays his game down quite flat. He knows how to talk ’em into the bedroom.
The most surprising track is “Knew It All Along,” which reunites Keith with his LSG homeboys Johnny Gill and even vocals from fallen balladeer Gerald Levert. Despite Gerald’s obviously tacked on contribution the song sounds seamless, like it was pulled right from 1997.
“High As the Sun” and first single “Make You Say Ooh” pay homage to Keith’s classics (“Nobody” and “Right And A Wrong Way” respectively) and don’t really break new ground. Honestly that’s my only gripe with Til the Morning – Keith plays it a bit too safely.
The title track, the former title track “Open Invitation” and “Ring Size” are all solid, yet ultimately forgettable songs. Oddly, he has a track here called “One on One” – um, playa, you already had a song called “One on One” and it’s way more memorable.
The only song I actively disliked was “To the Middle,” sort of an R&B version of Lil’ Kim’s old “How Many Licks” track, with T-Pain taking the place of Sisqo. I will admit, as much as I loathe that wannabe Autobot, T-Pain doesn’t totally embarrass himself here, it’s just kinda weird to hear Keith comparing women to Tootsie Pops. “My Valentine” kinda suffers the same fate – it’s a great track (with an excellent performance by SWV’s Coko) hindered by awkward lyrics. Keith and Coko are too old to be talking about being each other’s Valentine. Maybe it’ll sound more appealing in February, who knows.
Til the Morning is paint-by-numbers Keith, which, of course, is 20 shades of awesomeness for me and good news for fans of the laid-back 90s sound. At this point in his career, Keith is sticking to the basics – which means a lot of babies will be born this August. I’ll name my daughter LadyDuJour Bowser.
Best tracks: “Lady Du Jour,” “Candy Store,” “Getaway”
3.5 stars out of 5