Kelly Rowland: Ms. Kelly

Kelly Rowland
Ms. Kelly
Columbia

The genesis of Kelly Rowland's sophomore album is a sad commentary on the aesthetic currently choking R&B. The singer and member of Destiny's Child allegedly recorded an earlier version of the disc, a meditation on the end of a serious relationship, then thought better of releasing it. Rowland later suggested that the recordings were too uniform and depressing. But the same could be said of numerous R&B masterpieces, including Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and Mary J.'s "What's the 411?"

Consistency-equals-boring is a prevailing concept in modern urban music, and it has had lethal consequences. Case in point: Ms. Kelly devolved into the usual multiproducer collection of potential singles, designed to appeal to as many consumers as possible.

The results are predictably hit-or-miss. The club cuts—added to show Rowland's young 'n' fun side—are derivative; Scott Storch's "Work" is Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" four years later. Unsurprisingly, it's the brokenhearted ballads—most notably, the brutal "Still in Love With My Ex"—that show Rowland can be more than just the latest one-name soul singer, following in her old bandmate's massive, spike-heeled footsteps.

 
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