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Keyshia Cole

Just Like You
(Geffen)

The heartbreak of a fractured romance that brought such intense emotion to Keyshia Cole's 2005 debut, The Way It Is, remains much in evidence on her follow-up. "No one knew all the pain I went through," the Oakland-bred, Atlanta-based soul singer confesses over a lush cushion of strings on the ballad "I Remember." Nearly every other one of her anguished words is broken into syllable-splitting curlicues. "I'm so confused," she admits on the ballad "Losing You," a duet with neo-soul man Anthony Hamilton, who offers solace in a gritty, gospel-quartet tenor. Throughout Just Like You, Cole comes across as more confident, without sacrificing the honesty that has made her the decade's most refreshing female R&B voice. Cole penned all fourteen songs on the disc, and her melodies all have a simple, singsong quality. But her fourteen collaborating producers deliver an array of widely contrasting textures and beats, from Scott Storch's Barry White/Gene Page-like arrangement of "Give Me More" to the Runners' wildly syncopated percussion on "Didn't I Tell You," featuring Too $hort. Other guest rappers include Diddy, T.I., Lil' Kim and Missy Elliott, whose "Like, damn that's hot!" interjections on dance-friendly hit "Let It Go" pretty much sum up Just Like You.

 
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