A Different Me
offers more dimensions, from lyrical and production standpoints, than Keyshia Cole
's first two albums. Everything she recorded prior to this came from some degree of pain. Even though Just Like You
's "Heaven Sent" was as beatific as anything else on the charts throughout 2008, its sentiment came more from a sense of relief in the wake of relationships gone sour, and "Let It Go" was made for the club but dealt with "roaming dogs." Overall, this is Cole
's most free-spirited and adventurous album to date, and it is not without its stretches where reach exceeds grasp, like the jazzed-up, over-busy statement of purpose "Make Me Over" and the surprisingly saccharine "This Is Us." Yet there's a core of at least seven songs here that rate as highly as the best from the first two albums, and they're anything but reheated. "Don't Stop" beams with energy and pure, uncomplicated joy. "Oh-Oh, Yeah-Yea" is yearningly seductive, from Cole
's pleas to its drawn-out tides of strings. In "Thought You Should Know," she doesn't drop her guard entirely while revealing more vulnerability than ever. "No Other" is the only track that sounds cut from the same cloth as Just Like You
, and the resemblance is only in sound, with the equally urgent and sweepingly dramatic "Shoulda Let You Go" a definite reference, but the emotions between the two are starkly contrasting, with regret exchanged for aching desire. Cole
pushes herself into new territory and becomes a more versatile songwriter and vocalist in convincing, frequently thrilling, fashion. Here's where the comparisons begin to fade away.