en: Ms. Kelly [info]
Pushed and pulled into the R'n'B mould at nine, Kelly Rowland spent years as singer-in-waiting to Beyonce in Destiny's Child. Even after the release of her first solo album Simply Deep *in 2002, Rowland was still unfairly pitched against her booty-shaking counterpart. With *Ms. Kelly, Rowland's second solo album, we glimpse the real Kelly Rowland. Containing some of her most personal material to date, the album is forthright, resolute and sincere – in short, a collection of songs from an artist who has finally amassed the confidence to be herself.
Originally entitled My Story, the first version was scrapped because there were too many mid-tempo tracks. While the final edit has a few faster tempo numbers it is still predominantly a ballad record. "Work" – the most Beyonce sounding of the tracks with its jagged vocal and hip shaking beat, has a similar energy to Destiny's tracks "Bug A Boo" and "Lose My Breath". Single "Like This" featuring Eve works an hypnotic riff not a million miles away from Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" (Snoop Dogg himself makes an appearance on "Ghetto"). But Rowland's strengths lie in the ballad arena. After all, the Grammy winning "Dilemma" with Nelly was one of the biggest selling records of 2002.
"Flashback" the first ballad on the new album is a slow, pensive number, accessible in its honest view of broken relationships. "Better Without You" pitches Rowland's sensitive, elegant tone against quietly undulating backing vocals while "This Is Love" reveals a voice as powerful as Beyonce's and superiorly emotion-fuelled. Bonus track, the grinding "Gotsta Go (Part 1)" with harsh rapping from Da Brat, slices across the album's reflective tone and is a jolt back to the Kelly who for a second bows to pressure to be something she's not.
With Ms. Kelly, Rowland has carved a niche as a ballad performer and in doing so succeeded in distancing herself from Ms Beyonce. With this newfound confidence there's no reason why Rowland can't be every bit as successful as Knowles in the solo game.