Talk A Good Game is Kelly Rowland’s coming of age album. And this one is all about self-rule. This time around, she allows our minds to finally move past the undying elephant in the room: who is Kelly Rowland outside of the shadow of Destiny’s Child’s most successful member? She shows us with this new album as she unabashedly establishes her self-awareness, sexual identity, and individualism.
In a way that’s slightly odd, the verses on this album are very conversational. It’s as if the lyrics have been drawn from a lunch conversation with a girlfriend and are being recited in song rather than having been arranged as lyrics. Lack of organization is something that plagues most of the album’s 15 tracks, but this is likely a testament to Rowland’s attempt to stop at nothing to convey an open and honest project. The problem is that the lyrics remain stale; especially if this is the music she wants us to get to know her by.
Talk A Good Game opens up with “Freak,” an overtly sexual song that sings “Everybody’s somebody’s freak/The question is, who’s to you?” But still, the song remains less than enticing. “Dirty Laundry,” famously the album’s realest track, is a cheap attempt to shed light on the insecurities that plagued her during Destiny’s Child’s reign. We have to commend her for taking a stab at honesty, even if the song arrangement is lackluster, though somehow it remains a little catchy. And the washing machine related metaphors are clever.
“Red Wine” is a good cut. It’s smooth and silky, and perhaps one of the album’s best.
Although supersized synths occasionally make an appearance, we can’t help but fathom how Talk A Good Game isn’t completely reflective of the times. It sounds rather, like a female rendering of Chris Brown’s music pre-Rihanna. It’s jovial and even a little bubblegum with quintessential R&B instrumentation to mask the simply linear lyrics. It was cute in 2006, but a curious choice for a 30-something year-old woman with so many lived experiences by 2013.
The collaborations are cool. And it’s nice to not feel overwhelmed by an album full of features. It’s in this way that Kelly Rowland doesn’t cheat us out of listening to a Kelly Rowland album. Pusha T makes an appearance on “Street Life” and The Dream on “Sky Walker.” It’s nice to hear from them on their respective tracks, although neither of which are completely memorable. And all in all, Talk A Good Game could have been much better than it is. It’s okay. But not as hot as her album cover.