We first got wind of the beautiful, talented Keke Wyatt in 2000 when she teamed up with R&B sensation Avant on his single “My First Love,” and by wind I mean blown away. The sultry powerhouse exuded confidence and beauty as she pummeled Avant’s timid vocals on the ode to everlasting love. She went on to release her solo effort Soul Sister in 2001, but suffered a major setback the following year when she was arrested for stabbing her then-husband with a paring knife on Christmas day.
Even several years after the fact, that is the one thing that Wyatt is still best known, and unfortunately for her, her latest project, Who Knew? isn’t likely to overshadow that incident and/or focus more on her music. Still, the diva is back with a new attitude and a svelte new figure, to stake her claim as a force to be reckoned with in R&B music. She may be eight years too late, though.
Keke’s talent as a vocalist is unquestionable; she hits all the high notes, plays perfectly with her adlibs and has the ability to be just as strong when she’s trying her least. Still, Who Knew? lacks the originality and excitement that’s necessary to engage any listener today. Songs like the title track and “Daydreaming” are as formulaic as “one, two, buckle my shoe,” and not even the convoluted production is enough to bring them to life.
There are, however, a few highlights on the album; moments when Wyatt is strong, vocally and lyrically, and engaging. On “Peace on Earth,” a beautiful gospel-tinged song about introspection, she sings, “Where does this peace on Earth begin if not in the home? There’s too much talk about it and too many walk without it, tell me, where is the love?”
“Got Me One (Good Man)” is an upbeat, feel-good ode to all of the men who treat their women right, and is likely to be Wyatt’s next single. “Getting It” is a fun song, which finally gives Wyatt an opportunity to display her fiery personality (because I refuse to say swag) and impressive vocal range, though it finds itself oddly out of place with the generic tone of the rest of the album.
What’s unfortunate is that Who Knew?’s short-lived boost comes at the end, with the final four songs. Maybe if the same approach had been taken with the previous six, the album could have fallen into the “great comeback” category. But, instead, what’s offered is an anticlimactic performance that plays it a little too safe and stifles Wyatt’s ability to really shine.
out of 5
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