KEKE WYATT: Who Knew (Label: Shanachie)


Keke Wyatt first broke though about ten years ago with her ‘Soul Sista’ album. That came hot on the heels of a chart riding duet with Avant (remember the lovely version of ‘My First Love’?) and both proved that the young Indianapolis-born vocalist was a real contender… no wonder she’d featured in an early incarnation of Destiny’s Child! Since that auspicious debut, though, her career has been in a downward spiral – caused by a complicated mix of business and high-profile personal problems. Now, signed to the supportive Shanachie label, Keke is determined to get things back on track and hits the comeback trail with this new ten tracker. ‘Who Knew?’ will serve her well. In truth, it’s a very slick and professional modern R&B album that confirms the vocal ability her early work showed. However, nothing on the set really ignites. A lot of the music is down tempo and formulaic with ‘Without You’ being a particularly pretty tune that in the hands of one of the major R&B princesses and with the backing of major label would be a smash. Ditto, the beatier title track; ‘Who Knew?’ is very Beyonc√© and if credited to her would undoubtedly score … but I think that says more about the sensibilities of the record buyers and the might of the marketing than the quality of the music. The album’s most interesting track is a cover of Rachelle Ferrell’s ‘Peace On Earth’ – a gentle yet provocative item – quite at odds with the bombast of ‘Getting It’. That one’s full of crashes, bangs and vocoded effects and right out of kilter with the album’s general thrust. It’s good to know that Keke Wyatt is working again and that she’s put the nightmares of the past behind her. She’s a great modern R&B vocalist, of that there is no doubt… she just needs stronger songs to work with and, maybe, producers who will allow her to fly above the predictable.
(BB) 3/5