With neo-soul, R&B and 90/80s hip-hop sub-genres making a major come back in modern urban music, it is no surprise that artists such as D’Angelo, Craig David and Missy Eliot have found their new place in the industry by changing up their sound. What is astonishing, is how smooth R&B singer/songwriter Keith Sweat has managed to actually hash out a successful career based on the same sound and same lyrics for so many years. The 55-year-old New York native has been active on the American music scene for a long time now, and has just returned to the table with his latest offering of chamber music; ‘Dress to Impress’. And that’s exactly what Sweat creates; chamber music, the kind you would expect to find in softcore porn, or in a Disney end credits title sequence.
Sweat’s voice is undeniably lovely. It’s a dripping, sensual and sparkling taste of Isley Brothers-esque heyday. Over his long career, it hardly seems as though his voice has changed at all; still sporting an incredible range and smooth sound. However, in ‘Dress to Impress’ the problem is that Sweat relies far too much on his tried and tested formula. The tracks are all so similar sounding, that you would be truly hard pressed to tell any of them apart. There are twinkling piano and sensual sounding slap bass sounds featured so frequently that the whole album just seems to mould into one big, slightly simplistic mass. As you move through ‘Dress To Impress’, it actually becomes laughable how similar the tracks sound, and how similar the lyrics are. Think of being trapped in a Groundhog Day scenario where Omar’s ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ is playing on repeat, and you’ll get a good idea of this album as an experience. The final track ‘Lets Go To Bed’ is a fairly good summary of ‘Dress to Impress’, it tells the story of a Sweat attempting to relieve some of the tension in his strung out relationship with, you guessed it, sex.
Truly, Sweat has a great voice and some serious instrumental talent behind him. But all his tracks talk about exactly the same thing; tantric and fulfilling sex. There’s nothing wrong with this as a subject matter, and if it aint broke, don’t fix it. But ‘Dress To Impress’ offers nothing particularly interesting to the table, and won’t satisfy anyone looking for a unique and new sound to listen to.
This Keith Sweat article was written by Zoe Anderson, a GIGsoup contributor.