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Album Review

Keyshia Cole, A Different Me

December 15, 2008
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R&B
Keyshia Cole A Different Me
Imani / Geffen
ESSENTIAL "You Complete Me"

One of the problems of young artists is a refusal to grow. Keyshia Cole seems determined to defy that. On her first two records, good grooves and great singing were matched by her healthy arrogance and fire. Here she's reining in some of the 'tude, and, along with her star producers, showing a sweeter and supremely sexy side. Cole is never going to be demure (would we want her to be?), but there's an undulating quality to some of these tracks that envelops you. She's not trying to take you out with the riptide this time. "You Complete Me" is soulful and vulnerable, with a lack of mistrust and defiance. Maybe love is just simple and real. The acoustic "This Is Us" is sweet, gorgeous, and should be a smash. The ballad "Trust" with Monica has a swirl of strings that complements the two big voices. It might be too much for some early fans; when you throw curveballs, people miss them. And a few of the hip-hop-infused tracks fail. Yes, Keyshia grew up with Tupac, but let him rest, please ("Playa Cardz Right"). And Nas adds nada elsewhere. Throughout, though, Cole emphatically dares to be different - and pretty great. (Out tomorrow)

Keyshia Cole plays the DCU Center Jan. 19.

KEN CAPOBIANCO

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