13 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

The smooth-crooning, GRAMMY®-nominated Kem embraces and upholds an old-school R&B tradition of songcraft, sexy sway, and songs for lovers. So the ubiquitous comparisons to Marvin Gaye aren’t for naught. For this 2014 album (his fifth), Kem hired undersung Motown man Paul Riser (The Temptations, The Supremes, Quincy Jones) to arrange the tunes, so there’s an even heavier sense of classic soul than on his previous albums. “How Does It Feel” closely resembles old Detroit R&B, recalling The Stylistics and Stevie Wonder. The spare, guitar-and-vocal “Pray for Me” is as mournful a confessional as you’ll likely hear all year. The ever-optimistic (and unironic) piano ballad “Beautiful World” is, well, beautiful, while “The Soft Side of Love” is music to make babies by. Kem has also bumped up the tempo in places, adding some rocksteady to backdrop his candlelit croon. The single “It’s You” is equal parts late-night chill and dancefloor fodder. Ronald Isley duets with Kem on “My Favorite Thing,” while the silky “Downtown” features Snoop Dogg; the tune glows like a nighttime skyline through luxury apartment windows.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The smooth-crooning, GRAMMY®-nominated Kem embraces and upholds an old-school R&B tradition of songcraft, sexy sway, and songs for lovers. So the ubiquitous comparisons to Marvin Gaye aren’t for naught. For this 2014 album (his fifth), Kem hired undersung Motown man Paul Riser (The Temptations, The Supremes, Quincy Jones) to arrange the tunes, so there’s an even heavier sense of classic soul than on his previous albums. “How Does It Feel” closely resembles old Detroit R&B, recalling The Stylistics and Stevie Wonder. The spare, guitar-and-vocal “Pray for Me” is as mournful a confessional as you’ll likely hear all year. The ever-optimistic (and unironic) piano ballad “Beautiful World” is, well, beautiful, while “The Soft Side of Love” is music to make babies by. Kem has also bumped up the tempo in places, adding some rocksteady to backdrop his candlelit croon. The single “It’s You” is equal parts late-night chill and dancefloor fodder. Ronald Isley duets with Kem on “My Favorite Thing,” while the silky “Downtown” features Snoop Dogg; the tune glows like a nighttime skyline through luxury apartment windows.

TITLE TIME
2:50
4:09
3:48
4:50
4:58
4:44
3:44
5:22
4:42
4:32
2:51
4:15
4:12

About Kem

A Nashville-born, Detroit-based singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, Kem (born Kim Owens) overcame homelessness and addiction to become one of the most popular adult contemporary R&B artists of the 2000s and early 2010s. Known for his warm, mellow, and positive sound, the Grammy-nominated artist carried on the tradition of the quiet storm radio format -- exemplified by the likes of Smokey Robinson, the Isley Brothers, and Anita Baker -- with a steady supply of romantic and introspective ballads.

Kem funded the recording of his self-released debut, Kemistry, by working as a waiter and as a singer in a wedding band. After he sold 10,000 copies, the disc was picked up by Motown for nationwide release in February 2003. The album eventually reached the Top 20 of the Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums chart. Its follow-up, Album II, came out in May 2005. Like its predecessor, it reached gold status; it sold over 500,000 copies in the U.S. For a few years, Kem was less active as a recording artist, though he did appear on the fourth volume in Guru's Jazzmatazz series.

Kem's third album for Motown, titled Intimacy, was issued in August 2010, debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, and went gold as well; the single "Why Would You Say" was nominated for Grammy awards in the categories of Best R&B Male Performance and Best R&B Song. A holiday album, What Christmas Means, came in 2012. The following year, Ronald Isley's This Song Is for You was released, highlighted by "My Favorite Thing," a song Kem wrote and produced. Promise to Love, his fourth proper album of reliably smooth, gently uplifting material, arrived in August 2014. ~ Andy Kellman

  • ORIGIN
    Nashville, TN
  • BORN
    Jul 23, 1969

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