Friday, September 12th, 2014

Kem – It’s You

Fraud or jam?


Anthony Easton: Those strings sound exactly like the chimes in a mid century Disney movie, and the voice is 70’s light funk, and the words are generic enough that it could be to a child or a lover–which means the whole thing is well crafted enough to be on this side of interesting. 

David Sheffieck: A throwback, but a welcome one: there’s just enough of the modern here to keep “It’s You” from sounding like pastiche, but in the bassline, backing vocals, and spoken-word interlude, Kem nails elements that haven’t been done right in decades. We just lived through a disco revival; as long as we’re looking back to the 70s, can we get more of this?

Maxwell Cavaseno: Steve Harvey’s skull leer is looming in the distance over this song, menacingly drooling as he does his strange crying smile. Kem was never hot back in the day, who keeps giving him chances!?

Alfred Soto: As pure aural experience, this is one of the year’s two or three most gorgeous. Wah-wah guitars, concise and understated strings, electric piano mixed just right, and Kem’s whisper — these are throwbacks without wallows in nostalgia (even the spoken word bit works). The way in which each instrument speaks its peace coincides with the generosity Kem shows the beloved. It’s what R. Kelly tried on Love Letter.

Thomas Inskeep: Kem is likely the biggest R&B star you’ve never heard of. Akin to Frankie Beverly and Maze in the ’80s, he cranks out hit after hit and gold album after gold album, almost exclusively to an audience of middle-aged African-Americans. He’s had 8 top 50 R&B singles – but all of them have hit the top 5 on the Adult R&B chart, never worrying themselves with crossing over in the process. (His biggest hit on the Hot 100 peaked at #84.) Which is all to say, Kem makes what I call “grown folks’ R&B,” and does so superbly. “It’s You” is a super-smooth mid-tempo love jam in which Kem talks about how much he cherishes and loves his partner, with a genuinely timeless feel to it thanks to its undated production and never-out-of-style sentiments. You’re either wired to love this kind of thing or you’re not. I am.

Ashley Ellerson: Typical Kem exclaiming his love for a special lady, except he’s more upbeat than usual! Kem wants to join contemporary R&B with “It’s You”, shifting slightly from his neo soul/smooth jazz flow. This isn’t as emotional as hits “Love Calls” or “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” but it allows for more movement than slow dancing. The “I’m living every second like I’m finger lickin’ good all by myself” line throws me off a bit and takes away from the song; I question who wrote it. It’s a catchy tune but not memorable enough for heavy radio rotation. Kem should return to his roots.

Brad Shoup: He lays it on pretty thick at the beginning, so when the fog rolls in, it’s a pretty abrupt shift, like watching a relationship go from come-on to honeymoon in five minutes. I could coast on that bedroom wah and those strings; sorry, Kem.

Megan Harrington: When Delilah lights the white candle, “It’s You” is the answer.

Reader average: [5.5] (2 votes)

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