Kelly-Rowland-Talk-a-Good-Game–C. Shardae Jobson (@lavishrebellion)

Kelly Rowland

Talk A Good Game

Republic Records

Released on June 18, 2013

To the contrary, this is not a make or break album for Kelly Rowland.  Talk a Good Game arrives at a comfortable time for her musically as past releases were attempted to help the Destiny’s Child member breakthrough, and frankly, did not.  As smash hits finally found its way to her discography via Here I Am, Rowland has fought for her star power as a solo artist.  Now more than ever, her true feelings on love, sex, possession, and personal afflictions can be revealed as honestly as can be, and the revelations are applaud worthy.

The album starts off strong with “Freak” which is exactly what you think it’s about and its Danja produced beats strongly recall the underrated days of Kelis’ Flesh Tone.  And despite the lascivious-drenched leading single “Kisses Down Low” as well, Talk a Good Game is satisfyingly pensive.  Even when Rowland sings wistfully, there are natural phases of reflection that truly feels like the audible diary of the life and times of Kelly.

On the sonic front, she experiments with more adult R&B themes, as tracks like “Talk a Good Game” could’ve easily included Aaron Hall, or the late Luther Vandross on a verse; a tribute to ’90s R&B can heard again on the slinky “Down on Love.” “Gone” again uses the go-to female retribution song in sampling Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” and her sanguine moments surely have an undertone of Annie Lennox composure as expressed on “This is Love.”  The centerpiece however is her most autobiographical record, the dismayed but delicately executed “Dirty Laundry.”  As Rowland reveals her chords of envy and abuse, the usually bright Rowland is dark and contemplative.  In singing about the ebbs of professional disappoint and love gone violent, never will a listener feel more connected to the singer.  Kelly remembers notions of inadequacy so vividly, the co-written by The-Dream track, is chillingly genuine as by the end she slips in “Love is pain, pain is love.”

Other highlights include the return of Destiny’s Child as Beyonce and Michelle join on the great “You Changed.”  The trio’s melodious cooperation effortlessly gleams.

What has been crafted in time could be a modern R&B classic, courtesy of Kelly’s willingness to be open.  There’s a song for every juncture that challenged that mangled heart of yours and played every possible game that mentally left you searching for answers.  While Here I Am exposed her flirtatious side which was a blast to witness, Talk a Good Game is her take me as I am tale of survival.  The original title of Year of the Woman would had been just as fitting.