If It’s Love
Smokey Jazz Records
Kelly Hafner is a California girl, well-versed in all the technical aspects of music. She studied at the Berklee College of Music and played with bands in her native San Francisco, and then made the move to Austin, Texas to focus on writing and getting her solo career started. There, she formed a creative partnership with producer Derek Hames.
If It’s Love is a mature sounding record. For the most part, Hafner focuses on smoldering, “quiet storm” neo soul sounds. “Lifted” has a smoky jazzy feel similar to Sade’s best work. “Keep on Hanging On” has gentle horn flourishes underscoring Kelly’s sensual vocals. “Things Are Changing” has funky groove with wha-wha guitar and Hammond organ giving it a bit of Memphis soul.
Halfner stays in the quiet storm mode for most of the album, but branches out a bit with “Give Light”, which has a Jamaican “lovers rock” feel. The closing track, “Angel”, has a minimalist, electro-soul feel. The song lets Kelly show a lot of emotion with little more than a drum loop and understated keyboards for support. I actually like that sound quite a bit.
If It’s Love is a very good debut album that shows off Kelly’s voice to good effect. She has a fantastic voice. I’d like to see Hefner be more adventurous in the future. To me, it feels like she’s holding back where she could be tearing the roof off the place.