Keyshia Cole, ‘A Different Me’ (Imani/Geffen)
Despite her third full-length’s title, Keyshia Cole doesn’t mess with the formula established on her previous platinum albums, and that’s a blessing. Matching street beats to stringed-up balladry, she narrows the gap between classic and contemporary soul with lived-in love songs that sidestep filler. No matter how many star producers or guest MCs attend her party, Cole maintains an assured autobiographical voice. Accentuating joy over pain to reflect her ascent from troubled beginnings, this is the rare upbeat R&B disc that still feels real.