Release date: June 18, 2013
Label: Universal Motown
I've said this before and I'll say it again, Kelly Rowland is a very talented woman. She does not need to sell sex to sell music, if anything she shouldn't even be trying so hard to appear sexy when she already is. And going into this album I had already formulated an opinion based on the cover and the 'parental advisory' stamp at the bottom. In the end, the music is half the time entertaining and there are songs that leave you thinking, but I can't ignore the tracks that aren't very memorable.
Let’s kick it off with the opener, Freak. As hypnotic as the beat is and as much as I love Danja productions and quite a few of Rico Love’s, I just can’t seem to remember a single thing about the song even after three listens. What’s wrong with that? Well, there’s no substance besides the element of sex and exploring your sexuality. This opener is great for clubs, as like most of the uptempo tracks on the album, but I’m at a point where Kelly Rowland has transitioned into the female version of Trey Songz, and I’m really sexed out.
Kisses Down Low is another groovy r&b track with a great beat, but couldn’t the song be about something else other than being pleasured from down below? The topic is getting unbearable, and I’ve spent the period after Motivation straying away from Kelly’s music. It all just started giving me a bitter taste in my mouth. I’d rather she sing about going on a road trip, or even a song about eating carrots. Just something new and refreshing.
Thank goodness for Gone, because I almost gave up on reviewing the album until this track kicked in. Yes, even after only two songs. Though, it’s a sample of Joni Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, I love Kelly’s version. There’s no essence of distasteful sexual fantasies, just a woman feeling empowered enough to let the guy know he’ll regret the way in which he treated her after she’s left. She’s through with the hurt and pain, and is now living a brand new life filled with happiness. And I must say I liked Wiz Khalifa’s appearance on the track. It was a cool flow. After this song, I was worried another sex anthem would hop in, but fortunately, Talk a Good Game continued the goodness. Once again, I love the laid back r&b vibe. The harmonies are as smooth as honey, and Kelly’s vocals are sweetly arranged. Talk a Good Game is obviously about the woman letting it be known that she’s not into the foolishness. Kelly wants her guy to keep it real. Not only did Kevin Cossom co-write the track he also offers his vocals on it. His presence is well accepted and I’m pleased with his overall effort. Truthfully, I could see this song being one of the album’s promotional singles, but not sure its strong enough by itself. However, its still a very nice track with a catchy hook and title, though commonly used.
This is where it happens…
Down on Love is my favorite so far, with its realistic lyrics and being one of the more deeper tracks representing a vulnerable side to Kelly. The track depicts the ups and downs of her relationship, and how being in love left her sad in the end. Its no wonder she’s hesitant about experiencing the intense emotion now. At least, that’s from my interpretation of the song. But I can see how this is perfect, in terms of how the track is positioned on the album. Because Dirty Laundry comes in right after. We’ve all heard this interesting song by now, whether you heard the nasty discussions about Kelly being overly jealous of her “sister”, or if you’re like me and saw the bigger picture. The fact that this beautiful woman had experienced abuse by the hands of someone she thought loved her. This song is REAL. It’s as real and as naked as it gets. And this is the Kelly Rowland I love. The artist unashamed of singing about the truth, and putting forth her feelings. Dirty Laundry is a great song, and regardless if people call it a publicity stunt or whatever, this song will remain great and memorable whenever the name Kelly Rowland is mentioned, because we’ll know she’s truly a survivor. Something that surprised me about the track besides Kelly being so severely honest, is the fact that its a The-Dream production.
How interesting that the girls of Destiny’s Child reunite on a track right after the very evocative Dirty Laundry. Beyonce and Michelle join Kelly on You Changed, a mellow song sounding like part two of Girl. Hmm? Anyways, with that said, I like the old school aspect of the song, and that the ladies still sound wonderful harmonizing together. You Changed is about learning from mistakes and rising above them, but it also sounds like the guy has experienced a divine intervention and is now seeking another chance. Whatever the case, Kelly is over it. This is in fact her song so its good the featuring ladies don’t overpower her vocals.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Kelly Rowland album without a dance track. I remember is uptempo, bouncy, electrifying, and overall bittersweet to listen to. Not only does it have a cool beat to move to, you can’t help but listen to the words and relate. Because we all remember a past relationship that went bad, and a time when we used to love that person in spite of the fact that it ended up bitter. I like how the track moves from uptempo to a slow break down, emphasizing on its purpose. Kelly’s voice is smooth sailing on the hook, creating a ecstasy like atmosphere. I’m pleased with the song, but its not exactly a favorite. Can’t deny its charms though.
Liking the throwback sound of Red Wine. Almost like a MJ track with those breathy additions in the opening. I like the whispery tones she’s carried forward from the previous song, as well as the element of soaring above clouds. Loving the bass in the song as well, in that pause before the second verse. I think the song is arranged pretty well, whereas instruments and harmonies are concerned. Everything is laid back and chill with it. This is a great summer song. Release it!
This is Love is a beautiful track about the strong emotions you feel in a relationship when its real. I love how passionate and thoroughly happy the singer sounds on this number. You can’t help but smile along as she sings.
At first I was like why is Kelly singing about Street Life when she knows nothing about that. But this track was very conscious and thought-provoking. The words made sense and I was nodding my head along agreeing with the artist. The Pharrell production is wonderfully arranged with vivacious singing and energetic drums. Loving the hook as well. Not really familiar with Pusha T’s music but I enjoyed his additions on the realistic track.
Stand in Front of Me concludes the regular version of the album. The second Pharrell production is a mid-tempo, old school influenced yet sexually fused track representing the…activities in a intimate relationship. Kelly is sharing how happy she is with how her man shows his appreciation for her body. I’m kind of hurt that she closed the album in that way, but not too surprised as it did start out in a sexual manner.
To conclude this review, I’m happy that Kelly Rowland returned to her r&b core on this album, but I can’t say I was completely thrilled with all the songs. Talk a Good Game, though not exactly an epic release, does have its good points. The album is entertaining when it rises, truthful when she gets deep, and overall satisfactorily done. I’m contented with Ms. Kelly’s efforts and looking forward to future releases where making songs about sex is lowered to a balancing level.
Rating: 3.5/5======================================== 01. Freak 02. Kisses Down Low 03. Gone (ft. Wiz Khalifa) 04. Talk a Good Game (ft. Kevin Cossom) 05. Down On Love 06. Dirty Laundry 07. You Changed (ft. Beyonce & Michelle Williams) 08. I Remember 09. Red Wine 10. This is Love 11. Street Life (ft. Pusha T) 12. Stand in Front of Me ========================================
This review is bases on the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of EY as a whole.
Images Credit: Kelly Rowland facebook