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 multi-producer 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 broken-hearted 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.