Once part of the legendary, record-breaking Destiny’s Child, R&B songstress Kelly Rowland has been struggling to pave a path of her own with a solo career that has seen its equal share of ups and downs. For the release of her fourth solo studio album, Talk A Good Game, Rowland focuses on her adult contemporary-suited vocals instead of the dance/pop material found on her previous effort. Preceded by two moderately successful singles, “Kisses Down Low” and the personal “Dirty Laundry”, the album is a brand new introduction to a talented artist who has been fighting to remain out of the shadow of her famous former sister and groupmate.
Rowland claims that everyone is somebody’s freak at night on the dark, slightly- uptempo “Freak”. The opening track is slow, seductive and a fantastic start to the new R&B project. Featuring a hot spoken word portion reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and top notch production, this hope-to-be single is powerful and dance worthy.
The two singles released prior to the album are polar opposites as to the material found on the new effort. While “Kisses Down Low” is the naughtiest we have heard the artist, dirtier than “Motivation” and “Ice”, second single “Dirty Laundry” is a personal, therapeutic moment for Rowland where she expresses her past abusive relationships and jealousy for Beyonce’s success with lyrics like “he turned me against my sister, I missed ya”.
Love and problems with previous lovers make up the bulk of the subject matter found on the new record. Rowland has moved on from featured guest Wiz Khalifa on the adult contemporary-sounding “Gone”, contemplated giving up on love entirely on the impressive “Down On Love” and finally finds the perfect partner on the pop/R&B-influenced “This is Love”, which has strong crossover radio potential.
Buried in the middle of the new effort, Destiny’s Child returns once again as both Beyonce Knowles and Michelle Williams assist Rowland on “You Changed”, a track where each girl takes a shot at a jilted former lover. This is a Rowland place to shine, that is clear, but it is nice to hear the three’s voices together after years of patiently waiting. There’s chemistry present, the lyrics sound honest and overall is an effective addition.
While Rowland’s last release was packed with dance creations such as “Commander” and “Down For Whatever”, the closest she comes to the sound is on “I Remember”. The track never becomes a full-fledged, pulsating jam, stopping short before a dance breakdown approaches, but in a way it’s stronger than the typical dance effort. Essentially a ballad with electro/pop influences, Rowland’s vocals impressively take center stage where they belong.
Talk A Good Game may be the fourth studio album from Kelly Rowland, but it seems that the artist has finally found her true voice and a sound she is comfortable with. There are no club-ready dance tracks this time around, just personal lyrics and an R&B flare she has perfected. The new album has its strong, uptempo moments, such as the opener and first single, but most of the track list finds Rowland dealing with the pros and cons of any relationship. No subject was off limits, there was no fear in experimentation, and in the end the album became the artist’s strongest effort today.