x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Kelly Rowland: Talk a Good Game

The pop thrills may be more tempered, but her latest collection cements Rowland's reputation as an artist in her own light.

Kelly Rowland performs in New York on her Lights Out tour in May. Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images / AFP
Kelly Rowland performs in New York on her Lights Out tour in May. Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images / AFP

Kelly Rowland
Talk a Good Game
(Republic)
***

As the album title suggests, Kelly Rowland had us believing she was in a good place.

Her last album Here I Am, with production by David Guetta and RedOne, did the business; a handful of singles topped the European dance charts.

But it seemed Rowland’s musical success did not extend to her personal life.

Talk a Good Game essays her emotional dramas ranging from being trapped in an abusive relationship to experiencing jealousy at Beyoncé’s continuous success.

Such heavy issues can’t always be discussed over clattering beats, hence Rowland ditched the dance elements of Here I Am to return to her previous blend of up-tempo R&B and soul.

Fortunately, with the collaborators The Dream, T-Minus and Boi-1da, the sound here remains edgy and evocative. Rowland doesn’t go for the emotional jugular straightaway – she eases us into her drama by opening the album with the up-tempo Freaks and Kisses Down Low, tracks already making waves in the clubs.

Rowland then teams up with Wiz Khalifa for Gone. Similar to the much better Got ‘Til it’s Gone by Janet Jackson, the song is built around a sample loop of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi as Rowland details another failed romance.

The album then leads to its emotional centre, the powerful Dirty Laundry.

While the media tend to focus on Rowland’s lyrics regarding her relationship with Beyoncé (“Bird in the cage, you would never know what I was dealing with. We went our separate ways, but I was happy she was killing it”), Dirty Laundry is in fact a heart-wrenching dissection of an abusive relationship.

Over a slow groove by The Dream, Rowland unsentimentally details how her partner manipulated her first before resorting to violence.

Perhaps to quash rumours that her relationship with Beyoncé is permanently on ice, Rowland quickly follows up Dirty Laundry with the Destiny’s Child reunion track You Changed.

The track’s up-tempo funk and sisterhood message recalls the glory days of the trio and is superior to their recently released comeback single Nuclear.

The album is rounded off with a poised suite of R&B jams, a highlight being the soulful Pharrell Williams-produced closer Stand in Front of Me.

While Talk a Good Game lags at certain parts, it is by far Rowland’s most raw work.

The pop thrills may be more tempered, but her latest collection cements Rowland’s reputation as an artist in her own light.

 

sasaeed@thenational.ae


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