Kelly Rowland

Here I Am

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Kelly Rowland's third album, following a split with manager Mathew Knowles and label Columbia, is as much of a patchwork as 2007’s Ms. Kelly. There’s an extensive cast of producers and songwriters, as well as a handful of guest MCs. The set aims at the R&B, pop, and dance markets with clear distinctions, so several songs sound like isolated projects rather than pieces of a whole. That said, there is a little more focus on appealing to “hip-hop and R&B” radio. Pre-album single “Motivation” creeps and slinks so efficiently that the Lil Wayne verse and Rowland’s vocal -- apart from “Go, go, go, go” -- are immaterial. The following three tracks straddle pop and R&B with appealingly busy productions, some of Rowland’s most forward and energizing performances, not to mention a high level of arrogance that suits her very well. Those familiar with her guest appearances on French house producer David Guetta's One Love won’t be surprised by the singer’s decision to retain “modern Donna Summer” as one of her modes. “Commander,” produced by Guetta with his typical thump-and-whoosh flair, was released as a single in 2010 and topped the club charts in the U.K. and U.S. The newer “Down for Whatever,” produced by RedOne, Jimmy Joker, and the WAV.s, is a more frictional Euro-dance number that deserves equal attention. Although very eclectic taste is required to appreciate in full, this is clearly Rowland’s brightest, most confident album yet.

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