This California-born, Detroit-transplanted crooner made a name for himself in 2007, with his self-released debut album, Strawberry Lemonade. With that, Kendricks quickly solidified himself as a soul-man to be reckoned with, and that says a lot considering his last name. With his sequel, Smooth Soul Café, Kendricks picks up where he left off with 13 love ballads that will inevitably make you want to order flowers and wine for the next woman you fall in love with.
His Johnnie Wilder Jr. falsetto voice and Mint Condition intentions simply ooze wanting to love you, wanting to dream about loving you, and wanting to thank you for letting him love you. Yes, Kendricks is Boyz 2 Men rolled up into one blazer. He's polite, clean and faithful ... which means he's everything that the majority of today's R&B is not.
"I never met someone/ so special to me, babe/ I'm so glad that I found you/ and if you're wondering how I feel/ just look into my eyes" he sings on "Please Believe Me." If those lines fill you with jitters, then you'll probably lose your mind over "Brand New," "So Much," "Joy" and "Favorite Person." And in Kendricks' world; there are no R-rated sexual encounters or one-night stands. The closest he comes is in "After Dinner" ("I've gotta' taste for something chocolates and delicious/I've gotta taste for you").
Kendricks is beyond a throwback; he's almost an alien from a planet of chivalry, loyalty and perfect endings. The irony is that this is the strongest and weakest aspect of the CD. With so much soulful joy and happy ballads, there is a part of Kendricks' soul that the listener never feels. We never hear the crooning of a man whose woman has just left him as lonely as a busted guitar behind a pawn shop glass. No troubled man stories or musical testimonies attributed to personal trials and tribulations. Maybe Kendricks feels there is enough of that in the world right now. Besides, spreading nothing but happy feelings through R&B these days is akin to discovering a fresh lemonade stand on a ragged Detroit street. It's so unexpected ... but it's awfully damn refreshing.
Kahn Davison writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.