Keyshia Cole, 11:11 Reset | Album Review
On her seventh studio album, ‘11:11 Reset,’ R&B diva Keyshia Cole rebounds well following the so-so ‘Point of No Return.’
Throughout her career, Keyshia Cole has been incredibly consistent. Her earnest, heartfelt vocals often earned her comparisons to the queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige. Unfortunately, Cole ‘slipped up’ on her 2014 album, Point of No Return. While it had its moments, it didn’t feel (or sell) like vintage Keyshia Cole. Despite the misstep, she returns to form on the quietly released 11:11 Reset.
11:11 Reset kicks off with the brief “Cole World (Intro),” featuring DJ Khaled. Essentially, everybody’s favorite hype man does just that – hypes up Keyshia Cole and her latest project. In addition to Khaled blessing the project, the listener gets the first taste of Cole’s pipes. The nostalgia is real. She properly kicks things off with “Unbothered,” a brief, soulful, adult contemporary R&B joint that sounds like ‘the old Keyshia Cole.’ This is a clear contrast to “Heat of Passion,” the second track from the oft-suspect Point of No Return. Barely two-and-a-half minutes long, it’s a bit too short.
Apparent from the start, Keyshia Cole isn’t playing around on “You.” Clearly pissed, she’s unafraid to throw it out there. The record opens with the ferocious chorus, which instantly sets the tone. Charged-up and explicit, her best lyric references Chris Brown and his hit record, “Loyal.” In addition to her own rawness, Cole invites Remy Ma and French Montana along for the ride. Both get in their share of notable moments.
Keyshia Cole delivers well-rounded, powerful lead vocals on “Incapable.” Perhaps the best way to describe the performance is as high-flying. One of her best attributes is her upper register, which thrills on the memorable chorus.
“Oh what, oh what a feeling / The one that I thought I needed / Was incapable, incapable of needing me back / Incapable, incapable of loving like that.”
Perhaps there are too many sections in regards to the form of the song, but ultimately, Cole gives too much of a thrilling, heartfelt, and impactful performance to ignore or over-criticize this gem.
“Best Friend” builds off the excellence of “Incapable.” The production work is lush, firmly planted in the urban contemporary, adult contemporary R&B style. Slickly produced, it’s modern, yet possesses classic cues as well. This is clearly in Cole’s lane She delivers sensational vocals, coming up big on this ballad. In addition to here stellar lead, the harmonized backing vocals shine on the chorus.
“Vault,” gives Keyshia Cole another fine song. It commences minimally and mysteriously. The sound palette incorporates some bass, a few spare guitar notes, and a dash of percussion. The sound is alluring, despite being spare. Cole adds oomph as she begins singing, delivering, beautiful and expressive vocals. The vibe is the selling point, sounding romantic and intimate.
With plenty of old-school sensibilities, Keyshia Cole still manages to keep 11:11 Reset contemporary. One such instance is “Act Right,” enlisting Young Thug. For the most part, this still plays true to the Cole script, with radiant vocals, chocked-full of emotions. Still, Young Thug adds ad-libs, and then gets his own, unique verse. Compared to some of his verses, he reins it in, even if ultimately, he doesn’t say much.
“Right Time” will easily appease fans who weren’t feeling the Young Thug featured “Act Right.” This gem really dials things back to classic soul, with a prominent bass line and warm-sounding piano. What’s not part of the old-school, soulful script being the profanity, which is firmly planted in the blunt, modern times. She’s “not that innocent,” but “Right Time” is among the crème de la crème of 11:11 Reset.
“Emotional” is a welcome companion piece to “Right Time.” The soul continues to shine through, finding Cole in her niche without question. This isn’t game changing, but it is representative of an artist at her best. Flex on Keyshia, flex on. The enjoyable “Ride” adds some West Coast flare, enlisting the up-and-coming Kamaiyah for a feature. Too $hort appears on the brief benediction, “Cole World (Outro).”
If it hasn’t already been stated, Point of No Return was a big disappointment. Thankfully, 11:11 Reset is a return to form for Keyshia Cole. The vocals are excellent, there are some great songs, and the production is beautiful. This is a well-rounded R&B album. Sure, Cole is profane at times but she doesn’t let swear words or tastelessness ‘kill the vibe.’ She may be ‘rough around the edges,’ but her classy vocals shine like a beacon.
Gems: “You,” “Incapable,” “Best Friend,” “Vault” & “Right Time”