Album Review

Kelis, 'Flesh Tone'

July 5, 2010

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Don’t be fooled by “22nd Century,’’ the second track of Kelis’s first disc after a four-year absence. It’s a single-minded call to the futuristic dance-floor with enough sonic oomph to achieve liftoff. But while Kelis is indeed taking an emphatic step into Euro-disco here, this nine song set is also deeply personal. There are tracks that obviously reflect back on her years with ex-husband Nas, but she’s also keeping her eyes on the future. On “Brave’’ she sings, “I was super cool/But now I’m super strong/I had nothing to lose/but I was super wrong.’’ Many songs, co-written with the likes of David Guetta and Jean Baptiste evoke yearning, healing (“Acapella’’) or frustration (“Scream’’). “Emancipate’’ is the kind of beat-crazy, liberating track Madonna has been searching for; and with all the thick basslines, insistent synths, and throwback grooves throughout, there’s conspicuous reverence being paid to Giorgio Moroder. The propulsive “4th of July (Fireworks)’’ is an affirmation of reinvention (“And now I’m brand new/rename me’’). The album closes with the soulful “Song for the Baby,’’ a message to her son, Knight. While the sound of “Flesh Tone’’ is electro cool, the songs reveal a deep humanity. (Out tomorrow)


ESSENTIAL “Emancipate’’

Kelis plays the House of Blues on July 27