Kelly Rowland’s solo career has been a mixed bag over the years. Since Destiny’s Child went their separate ways she’s struggled to piece together a real sense of identity for her music, and whilst she has a strong singles discography to her name her albums basically always end up being a bitter disappointment. However, her latest offering Talk A Good Game changes the game completely – it’s a consistently strong album of mid-tempos and slow jams. The dance orientated sound of 2011’s Here I Am has been abandoned for a more classic R&B album, and whilst the lack of a massive club anthem is a shame it would have looked out of place on a record that allows Rowland to make the album she probably should have made years ago.
The album opens with Gone and Kisses Down Low, tracks which continue the trend of Rowland’s songs being overtly sexual in nature. Whilst this worked well with tracks such as the brilliant Motivation, it now feels rather redundant, and alongside being some of the weakest songs on the album they are also very bad representatives of what follows. The track that warrants the most discussion has to be current single Dirty Laundry. Discussing how Rowland suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her partner when Destiny’s Child came to an end, it also includes lyrics about her envy of former band mate Beyonce’s chart success. It’s a very simple song in its structure, allowing the lyrics to really be the focal point of the song as they play out almost like a diary entry. It’s something of a harrowing account, and requires a good number of listens to really understand all the tragic details. Including it on the album is a very brave move for Rowland, but it pays off, and is up there as one of the best things her solo career has produced to date.
Also noticeable is You Changed, as it features both Beyonce and Michelle Williams. It’s not quite the fist-pumping anthem of Survivor, but it easily could have been a Destiny’s Child album track, and is very reminiscent of Girl (one of their last singles). Special mention should go to Williams, who frequently comes under a great deal of mockery, but her very distinct vocals always make good use of whatever she’s given. Other highlights would include Red Wine, a retro track that’s similar to what someone like Brandy would have released in the 90s, and This Is Love, an obvious candidate for the next single.
Talk A Good Game is not a flawless album by any means, but the highlights are some of the best tracks of Kelly Rowland’s career. It may have taken over ten years, but it feels that she’s finally started to realise where her niche is in the charts. Whether she’ll continue this sound with her fifth album or return to guesting on David Guetta productions remains to be seen, but for now it’s simply nice to see her release an album that finally makes good use of a very talented artist.