“A distinct departure from the urban sound of her previous album” Wikipedia states. One might say that. And it is certainly true. From the first few seconds once the “Intro” gets going, it is clear it is not contemporary R&B, or even what we are used to from Kelis. Rather leaning to electro. Upon hearing the beginning for the very first time, I was looking forward to hearing the album in its entirety (I only saw a snippet of the video for “Acapella” early on, but never paid attention, as in some cases I like to listen to the album as a whole the first time without hearing the single).
With Flesh Tone, Kelis really relies on electro/house for the entire album. And with that numerous producers and writers in the genres. I counted no less than 10 different producers and 21 different writers. The album is 9 tracks, plus 6 segues.
Speaking of the segue tracks, they really are a track of their own almost, in that they perfectly go from one track to the next, hence ‘segue’. Insofar that unless one knew they were there, they would really be hard to notice. Thus it makes for a great house/club/DJ record.
Segue 1 goes from the electro “22nd Century” to the excellent house/dance “4th of July (Fireworks)”. The latter has elements, in particular the electro backing, that reminds me considerably of a Radiohead/Thom Yorke track (mentioned in the album preview I’d reveal who it reminded me of). The track actually samples a Lioness remix of “You’re My Heart” by Pilotpriest. The piano backing is what is sampled, along with a select part of the house element from the original. I normally do not listen to remixes, however I do like when samples are used, and used well, in that the sample in question adds to the new track, making it its own thanks to the sample, while still giving kudos for the sample. The track was produced by DJ Ammo, who I believe must be responsible for the electro element.
Start to finish the album keeps the listeners attention. “Emancipate / Segue 5” is an uplifting song that flows into “Brave” which seems to be about Kelis being strong, and finally “Song For The Baby” is literally that, as she was pregant during the recording process. It is also noted in “Brave” (“It was crazy, Had a baby. He’s amazin, He saved me”). Also recorded when she had no label, perhaps for this reason she was free to choose her own direction, (“Emancipate Yourself”).
What is really impressive is the fact that Kelis pulled off such a drastic style change, and did it so well. From first hearing “Caught Out There”, her first singe, back in 1999, it was fairly obvious she was talented. However to make this album sound as if she has been in the electro house genre for years is a mighty feat. Perhaps not for Kelis though.
Apparently Kelis wanted to get people to dance again, hence this record. I dare say, mission accomplished!
Listen to: “22nd Century”, “Brave”. And of course the whole album!