Keya – Keya

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Album Review by Adam Foster

Keya is ambitious in several ways: she wants to rule the world; she wants to make complex and intelligent R&B; and she wants to address tricky issues head on. Apart from ruling the world, she succeeds partially in most of these ambitions. And for a debut album of self-penned songs, produced on a relative shoestring, that is pretty good.

While this is a very heavily ballad-led album – and while some of these are bland (WE WERE MEANT TO BE, DON’T RUSH) – Keya does attempt something more here. The album is kept alive by a combination of complex beats, multi-layered vocals and interesting lyrics – INNOCENT CHILD addresses child abuse, while other tracks challenge the Afro-American macho culture. Unfortunately, this intention is undermined by other lyrics – the submissiveness of YOU SAY YOU’RE A MAN, for example.

While she can be forgiven for mixed messages there is little excuse for such witless lyrics as those of BALLERS, which is a charmless younger cousin of TLC’s NO SCRUBS, marked by a lack of humour and poor scansion:

“For you to go with me

You have to take me on shopping sprees

Got to spend those sheets

I won’t sell for less.

Let’s talk about that Versace dress

Spend that dough on me.”

And who said romance was dead?

The shame is that BALLERS is one of the two most danceable tracks on the album – the other being the radio-friendly BUMP BUMP, scheduled as the first single. On this mixed evidence, it is unlikely that Keya will ever rule the world. But she might well produce albums of intelligent R&B in the future.

3 stars