Kelis, Son Little | Park West | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Kelis, Son Little 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Mon., June 9, 8 p.m. 2014

Kelis Rogers has passed through several styles in her career—notably hip-hop with the Neptunes and electro-pop crud with—and though she hasn’t fit neatly into any of them, she makes a virtue out of being a square peg. She tries on another sound with her new album, Food (Ninja Tune), produced by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek—he brings an indie-rock sensibility to bear as he refracts her sultry R&B melodies through horn-drenched minimal funk and Afrobeat-derived grooves. (The album title fits too: Kelis has become a certified saucier, and she hosts her own show on the Cooking Channel.) On some of the ballads, alas, Kelis’s singing is the only redeeming feature—a cover of Labi Siffre’s “Bless the Telephone” is so flaccid and sentimental it makes Jim Croce sound tough. But that deep, raspy voice is still absolutely singular, and what stands out even more is the powerful sense of self that comes through in Kelis’s lyrics. There’s no bland contentment or raw yearning here—any feeling of satisfaction or longing comes from a position of strength and confidence. The giddy proclamation of love on “Cobbler” peaks with the line “You make me hit notes that I never sing,” answered back with a straight-faced joke from a female chorus: “She never sings / Sings these notes.” On the lullaby-like “Floyd” she treats her independence like something that barely needs mentioning (“Sure, I’m self-sufficient blah blah blah”), and when it comes to love she won’t settle for what merely works—on the drifty, sensual chorus, she sings, “I want to be blown away.” —Peter Margasak

Price: $20

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