Kelly Rowland - Ms. Kelly

Posted July 6, 2007
Tags: Kelly Rowland,

I would love to get right into Kelly Rowland’s long awaited album Ms. Kelly, but first I need...

Ms. Kelly Album Review

I would love to get right into Kelly Rowland’s long awaited album Ms. Kelly, but first I need to address the Jordan Effect. What’s the Jordan Effect? Let’s ask Scottie Pippen. Pippen’s always going to be in Michael Jordan’s shadow, even though he was a damn good player in his own right. He wouldn’t have won all those championships without Jordan, but he must have occasionally gotten tired of sharing the spotlight. In the end he’ll always be thought of as a sidekick, no matter what he does on his own. Now think of Beyonce as Jordan and Kelly as Pippen. Exactly. I’ve been thinking about that analogy all week and I challenge anyone to come up with a better one. Seriously, post your thoughts below.

Ok, now we can get into the music. Ms. Kelly’s release had been delayed because of concerns it contained too many mid-tempo songs, label-speak for there aren’t enough radio singles. After some studio bangin’ the album was finally ready and now a full third of Ms. Kelly are wall-to-wall club shakers. The lead single is the surprisingly stylish Like This produced by Destiny’s Child’s favorite producer, Sean Garrett. The beat is built around some jangling belly-dancing percussion and sparse horns that give Kelly and Eve room to show they have some real swagger. I’ll admit it, I didn’t think she could do it like that, but I was wrong. Like This announces Kelly’s arrival on the scene in red-carpet style.

When you need a club hit you call Scott Storch (or Timbaland, but we’ll leave that alone) and sure enough Kelly had his number on speed dial. The Piano Man produced two songs for the album starting with the head-nodder Comeback, a perfectly decent song if only the chorus didn’t contain the phrase, “hubba bubba,” a terrible choice unless you’re doing country music. Storch’s second contribution is Work, a franticly energetic track that Kelly works with skill…but Beyonce would have absolutely smashed it. The Jordan effect strikes again.

Tracks like Comeback and Work aren’t bad; it’s just that Kelly sounds like she’s at work, not making music she loves. More noteworthy is Ghetto, a smoothed-out-funk track featuring the impossibly cool Snoop Dogg. The slower pace is more suited to Kelly’s voice and she delivers a breathy vocal performance with no small amount of sex appeal. This is the kind of mid-tempo track Columbia apparently wanted less of, and where Kelly’s at her best. She shows she can really bring some vocal heat on the grown and sexy track The Show, featuring the perpetually shirtless Tank. Kelly doesn’t have the widest vocal range in the world but she proves that one emotion filled note is more than enough (we can only hope Christina Aguilera’s reading this).

If the last section of the album is to be believed, Kelly is a hopeless romantic at heart who really just wants to sing ballads. This Is Love is built almost entirely around an acoustic guitar and Kelly’s searching voice, this is the kind of song that plays during the credits of a romantic comedy. Every Thought Is You is another relentlessly positive track that allows Kelly to showcase her true love, romantic ballads. These are simply enjoyable pop songs that are expertly constructed; Kelly produced or co-wrote much of the album. Such syrupy sweet offerings are grand, but it would be great to hear Kelly do a song where she flashes some anger, kind of a Ring The Alarm thing. Sorry, I can’t help it.

I understand why they chose to rework the album, got to make that money after all, but club-friendly additions like Work are only smoke screens that hide the true Kelly Rowland, a R&B talent who likes to occasionally venture into pop territory. Ms. Kelly should give her enough foundation to truly stand on her own two. Now about that remix with Beyonce…

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted July 6, 2007
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