Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Intimacy: Album III is the third studio album from R&B artist Kem. It was released on August 17, 2010 on Motown Records. The first single, "Why Would You Stay", has gotten a great amount of airplay, peaking at number 19 and 14 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs and Heatseekers charts respectively. Like other albums, its self-produced by Kem himself and features a duet with Maurissa Rose and spoken word by Jill Scott. The album debuted at number 95 on the Hot R&B/Hip-hop albums chart.
The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 74,000 copies in its first week in the United States, becoming Kem's highest-charting set ever. On December 2010, the album sold over 250,000 copies in the United States.
"After a 5 year hiatus, Kem has finally decided to bless us with the follow up to his 2005 Album II , with a CD conveniently entitled "Intimacy: Album III" which was released on August 17, 2010 via Motown Records.
As usual there are only ten songs on the album and the big question is - will these ten little jazzy, original, tasteful, elegant, refined tracks live up to the expectation created by such a long wait?
Kem only does Kem meaning the entire CD is composed of catchy mid tempo, smooth songs with beautiful melodies to seduce the listeners.
The R&B/soul singer sticks to his traditional silky tone of voice on the intimate ballads which talk about love, heartache, romance and overcoming obstacle.
The best cuts on the CD include "Share My Life", of course the wonderfully written and performed "Why Would You Stay," while not neglecting "Can You Feel It," where he gets very passionate and "Golden Days," that surprisingly has a motivational poem that is read by Jill Scott.
But despite putting a beautiful album together that his fans will absolutely adore, one must wonder when will Kem stop sounding like an enchanted broken record that plays the same old musical arrangements and tells the same bedroom stories? When will he modernize his sound? When will he use his gift as a lyricist to present us with something deeper?
Most likely never seeing that his next album will be more or less be a continuation of his previous works and will therefore contain the usual laid back, sensual tracks that will keep on hitting all the right notes for his countless female fans.
In conclusion if you are a fan of Kem or you are looking for an album that will set the mood in the bedroom when the lights are dimmed and your lover awaits you well-Intimacy: Album III is perfect for you and will satisfy your every need.
But if you are searching for music that moves you with deep lyrics about social issues and elevates the philosophical debate about life -well Kem can not help you in these areas." - RNBMusicBlog
"Old school R&B stalwarts will tell you in a heartbeat, this over-sexed, electro-produced nonsense the kids pass off as soul these days is a bunch of new school poo. There aren't any instruments, just some guy and his computer. None of these "singers" can sing and most of the songs are about dropping trou for somebody you don't even know, then kicking them out when you're done. Where's the romance, the fire, the passion?
Some think Kem Owens has it. His first two albums both went gold, a huge accomplishment considering his adult contemporary composition; a 50/50 split between soul and jazz. He stands out in a world of oversingers and digitally enhanced crooners who couldn't find Middle C if their lives depended on it. Now he has a third album to pass along to his anxious fanbase, Intimacy.
The album is a personal look at love and relationships; weighted towards the highs and late night carnal sessions with a man who adores his woman immensely and would do anything for her. He thinks the sun rises on her beautiful face, her curves are heavensent and her toes are yummy (He said it, not me.) Regardless of what she does, he'll be there for her.
All of this baby-you're-the-most-wonderful-thing-God-ever-did talk is smeared over skeletal new jazz production, laid back organs and quiet guitars. Little swaths of piano and buried horn stabs round out the champagne, rose petal and bubble bath party. Can you feel it girl?
Saying Intimacy is a case study in the unexciting would of course bring out the claws of chicks who think if you don't like Kem, you must be a huge fan of Akinyele. While the latter is definitely not true, the former is unfortunately. A song or two of this soft R&B is definitely great for a theme evening, but it quickly falls into the background as white noise.
There are some standout tracks though. "Share My Life" has a predictable yet beautiful progression with a delicate acoustic guitar in the lead. Kem raises his voice above his normal simmering whisper, reminiscent of a young Lionel Richie, as he delivers his normal shtick, just wrapped in a prettier package.
"Why Would You Stay" chronicles a cheating man's contrite attempt at earning his broken hearted woman's forgiveness. It thankfully breaks up the lovey dovey monotony. The faithful Kem takes a respite as his trifling alter ego begs beautifully over the piano, strings and melancholy guitar. Kem veers off the path of romanticism with "A Mother's Love," a song that will be well regarded more for its sentiment than its sound, even though the second half is way more interesting that the first.
The lone feature, Jill Scott, adds some oomph to "Golden Days," a song during which Kem does his best Al Jarreau impression. Kem's jazz half takes control here. The awkward construction of the song is almost tribal and the piano darts in and out perfectly. Jill Scott's personality takes this song to another level as she delivers a frenetic spoken word enough to remind you of Cee-Lo. It's a beautiful song.
Intimacy is a sturdy work. Kem stays in his lane, which is unfortunately dated compared to these new fangled boy toys who want the neighbors to know your name. His brand of woman worship does find Kem in the banal end of things sometimes, but for those who remember the passion of the quiet storm, Kem and his Intimacy will be a welcome, albeit lackluster blast from the past." - PlanetIll
Entertainment Weekly (p.89) - "The arrangements on his third LP embody the title, complementing his honeyed vocals with gentle acoustic strumming..."
Recording information: 54 Sound, Ferndale, MI; Entourage Studios, North Hollywood, CA; Masterpiece Sound, Detroit, MI; Pac 3 Studios, Dearborn, MI; Studio A, Dearborn Heights, MI; Twyman Studio, North Hollywood, CA.
Photographers: Meeno Peluce; Arthur King ; Treagen Colston.
All the subtle variations on Kem's sound -- his exceptionally smooth adult contemporary R&B, modern quiet storm that has earned the singer two gold-selling albums -- add up to a set that doesn't sound like a mere rehash of his past successes. While Intimacy features his familiar gentle, less-is-more touch throughout, it's more forwardly sensual -- skillfully so, without being too brash or overt for his audience -- and upfront all-around, from the romantic material to the odes to mothers and inner peace. On Kemistry and Album II, there often was a slight distance to Kem's voice, both sonically and lyrically, but there is no such air of mystery here. His voice is clear over the sparse arrangements, and his words are more direct than before. That said, the biggest surprise is "Golden Days," in which Jill Scott, the first vocal guest on a Kem album, rants and preaches for over a minute. ~ Andy Kellman
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- Smooth Jazz Tributes Kem (Various Artists)