Yasss Kween! She is back with an aptly self-titled album: Kyla (The Queen of R&B) under Star Music. From her last studio album, this is her ninth after an eight year- hiatus. Fans of the R&B royalty have surely missed new material from the queen, no wonder why it landed on number one on the itunes’ album charts upon its release. It has 12 new tracks composed of 11 brand new originals and one remake which is a soulful duet of "Sa Iyo" with no less than its composer, another R&B legend, Jay Durias. In addition, it also has six bonus tracks including two remixes plus her well-loved theme song renditions of "Till I Met You" and "On The Wings Of Love," and her Himig Handog interpretations of "Monumento" and "Tayo Na Lang Kasi.’ But let’s focus on the fantastic new material that Philippines’ R&B Queen has dished out in this highly anticipated release.
Out of the 11 fresh cuts, it’s such a difficult task to zero in on just the good ones, 'cause honestly, all the tracks are quite stellar. In my opinion, though, "Only Gonna Love You" is a no-brainer when it comes to choosing the best of the bunch. Jonathan Manalo is behind this hip and groovy upbeat track which was the first single out of the album. It brings you back to the golden era of the late 90’s to the early 2000’s style of R&B which I kinda missed. And that Motown interlude version of this song? Fire! I wish there was a full version of it.
Track number two, for me, is also the second best song in the album, "My Melody," written by another immensely gifted R&B artist, Aliya Parcs. With more of neo-soul vibe, it is also the most current-sounding out of all the tracks as urban music has evolved into a fusion of different flavors nowadays. It is also light and jazzy enough like a warm summer breeze that is sure to pick up your mood.
The proceeding track "Talk About Us" is another fave of mine as Kyla collaborates with Philippine Pop Music’s prince at the moment, Iñigo Pascual, in a mid-tempo ballad that will make you sway and swoon to the blending of their soulful vocals. Jonathan Manalo collaborates with Marion Aunor in writing the lyrics to this song.
Ballads dominate the track list of Kyla (Queen of R&B) with a few more mid-tempo cuts, penned by heavyweight and award-winning composers in the lineup including Trina Belamide, Jungee Marcelo, Kiko Salazar, and Yeng Constantino— yes, you read that right, and their collab track is quite interesting, too. My personal favorite though would be the sentimental sawi song by Joven Tan, "Mahal Kita Pero Konti Na Lang." With a title like that, it is sure to resonate among the hugot generation out there. A close second favorite ballad in the album for me would be, "Fix You And Me" again by Jonathan Manalo, who also happens to be the album producer, and like me, is a self-confessed Kyla fanatic. In this track, the essence of Mariah is quite strong as both Jonathan and Kyla are also self-confessed Lambs, and so am I that’s why I don’t mind the homage at all.
What I love about Kyla is simply her timbre which is so distinct with her breathy soft tones and her strong yet brilliant high notes that are always pleasant to the ears. Her vocal control especially in her riffs is quite unparalleled and she can take whatever song from whatever genre and make it into her own, which is a true mark of an artist. After this hit album, I am really looking forward to seeing her performing these songs live on the concert stage real soon. Kyla is definitely back and with this album, she shows us who truly reigns in Philippine R&B.
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Banner photograph taken from Kyla's Instagram account