There are many reasons why Keyshia Cole isn’t as famous as she once was. Some of them are her own fault (quitting a viable reality show, lackluster music) as well as things that are out of her control (the rise of PBR&B, K. Michelle). So, how does a once-promising R&B singer rescue her career? You could just try to garner attention in any way possible, including altercations that result in run-ins with the law, re-launch a reality show and filming a video for every song on your new album. In other words, try to do anything to make sure that people know that you exist. Yet, only 26,000 people could be bothered to purchase Point of No Return. As upsetting as it may be to those who feel the public doesn’t support “real” artists, most of them should take the time to examine the fact that this is easily Keyshia Cole’s most boring and flat album since Calling All Hearts. And that’s saying something. Because that wasn’t a good album, either.
The main issue with this album, as it has been since Just Like You, is that Cole quite simply can’t sing about anything else apart from either making love or heartbreak from the perspective of a hurt woman. It was great the first time round. Okay, the second time, too, and slightly more rote the third time (although A Different Me switched up the sadness for devotion). Cole just can’t get away from the simple fact that she has nothing interesting to sing anymore. The whole album tries to make up for it with heartfelt singing and cursing, a lot more than usually expected on a Keyshia Cole record. However, nothing can disguise the fact that she’s just going through the motions. Everything sounds like it came off an assembly line.
Even the crassest tracks still don’t feel like they were made for Keyshia Cole; they feel a lot more like K. Michelle demos that were instantly refused. That’s not to say she doesn’t try. The singer still has some fight in her as displayed in tracks such as “Remember (Part 2)”, where she traces back her own steps on painful memories as she did in “Part 1”, but at least she can stay on key for the majority of the track without trying too hard like some of her contemporaries. However, a lot of the songs on this album don’t feel as though they had as much time. The assembly-line focus really feels cheap on the Rihanna-lite “Rick James”, where Cole tries and fails to come off as assertive and ends up sounding needy. Like the aforementioned song, too much emphasis on this album is placed on sounding current, fresh and radio-ready and too little weight is placed on clever songwriting and perfectly trippy production.
Even when she sings about the only two subjects she has knowledge on, Keyshia Cole sounds like she’s just discovered how write a nursery rhyme. “Believer” goes through the same main points she’s stressed about a thousand times, with lines such as “It’s only right boy/To touch you like I’m touching you right now” and “Won’t stop until you want to propose”. To make matters worse, save Gavyn Rhode, Wale and August Alsina, more often than not, the features do not help Keyshia Cole get it right. Future messes up “Love Letter”, as he does the vast majority of the time by groaning with Auto-Tune out of time. Juicy J can’t even bring a decent flow on “Rick James” and 2 Chainz wastes his chance by sending one-liners our way rather than work a solid verse. Either way, Keyshia just cannot pull a great feature here.
When it comes to production, the biggest mistake is made on “She”. The song sets itself up to be a brilliant club banger, but DJ Mustard manages to find Keyshia Cole sound plain boring. The house-style synths and vocal sample at the beginning of the track almost clinch the award for best song the album, but it completely goes to the wind when the beat drops and Cole starts to sing. It’s almost as if there was no thought process in the lyrics, with Cole over-singing and drawing out well-worn phrases in order to search for a workable chorus. “Don’t treat me like no angel/You know that I can be a lot to handle” are the lyrics I expect to hear from a song by a girl band looking for their first hit — not a seasoned R&B singer with five albums under her belt. It’s such as shame, as the song could have been an easy favourite. Lyrically the song is daring, as it features Cole talking about a lesbian experience. But, as usual, the singer always finds a great way to ruin everything for herself. Other production faux-pas include the unnecessary braggadocio on “Do That For”, which sounds like she’s trying to sing live over a studio beat, and the pointless R Kelly sample on “N.L.U.”.
At the end of the day, Keyshia Cole is wasting a lot of time if she’s wondering why this album is nowhere near as good as it could’ve been. It quite simply is this: Everything doesn’t work anymore. We’re tired of putting up with a singer who can barely stay in key with the music she’s signing, as if the producers are any good in the first place. She really has reached a point of no return. And if she continues down this path, she’ll never have the chance to change that.