Talk a Good Game is Kelly Rowland's fourth studio album which was released on June 14, 2013 by Universal Republic.
- Freak 4:34
- Kisses Down Low 4:14
- Gone 4:18
- Talk A Good Game (featuring Kevin Cossom) 3:23
- Down On Love 4:10
- Dirty Laundry 5:29
- You Changed (featuring Beyoncé and Michelle Williams) 3:56
- I Remember 3:43
- Red Wine 4:21
- This Is Love 3:37
- Street Life (featuring Pusha T) 3:44
- Stand In Front Of Me 3:52
- Sky Walker 3:28
- Put Your Name On It 4:43
- 1 4:31
The work on Kelly Rowland's fourth album reportedly began in 2011 after the release of her third album, "Here I Am."
In March 2012, Lonny Bereal told Kempire Radio that the album would see Rowland returning to her R&B roots, saying: "She's going in so hard with the R&B. Of course, she is going to give the Pop crowd what they're looking for. But, she really is returning to R&B on this album. Her delivery is real confident now. It's definitely a new Kelly Rowland. She wouldn't even let me put autotune on her voice this time round. She was like 'No, I want people to really get me'."
he following month, Rowland told MTV News that the album would have a theme and that she had been documenting the recording process of the album for her fans to see."
During an interview with Vegas magazine in June 2012, Rowland described the album as a dedication to "my ladies." She explained, "I want to tell women how incredible we are, how our intuition is so spot-on. Sometimes we don't listen to it, but it is the thing that can actually make us happier."
Rowland cited Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder as the album's inspirations.
In August 2011, producer Rico Love told Rap-Up magazine, "While she's on tour, I'm gonna be writing records for her new album. We can kinda roll that out and drop her new single in late spring. Excited about that."
Love also said that he wanted to continue developing an R&B sound with Rowland, following the US chart success of her single, "Motivation", which he co-wrote and co-produced. He said, "I believe in R&B and I believe that if we make new age records and don't make dated records and keep it classic, I think we'll be fine."
Rowland also worked with Amber "Se7en" Streeter, Da Internz, Eric Bellinger, Eric Hudson, Kevin Cossom, Lonny Bereal, Nikeshia Briscoe, Redd Stylez, Rock City, T-Minus, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, The Runners and Beau Vallis.
On March 23, 2012, Rowland confirmed via Twitter that she was working with rapper T-Pain.
Sean Garrett revealed in an interview with Rap-Up on May 9, 2012 that he also contributed to the album. He stated, "Her swag is dope and I'm just so happy to see her get her shot. I'ma do what I can to make sure Kelly right."
In August 2012, Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren mentioned her involvement, stating that she had been working with Rowland "because Beyoncé was telling her to get together with me."
In November 2012, Rowland revealed she had been working with production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Speaking of their collaboration to Billboard's Keith Caulfield, she said, "Let me tell you something, they are a part of the foundation of who I am ... Because their sound was one of the first things I remember about R&B. Being in the studio with them, I wanted to pinch myself." However, it was later revealed that the songs she recorded with Jam and Lewis did not make the album.
In February 2013, Rowland revealed that she had over 50 songs recorded for the album that she was continuously working on to put together the final collection.
She also worked with The-Dream, Pharrell Williams and Boi-1da. According to USA Today in April 2013, rapper Pusha T would make an appearance on the album.
In April 2013, Rowland revealed she had over 70 songs to choose from, amongst a feature vocal from Lil Wayne, the album features Wiz Khalifa and a duet with Pharrell Williams.
Additionally, she reunited with former Destiny's Child bandmates Beyoncé and Michelle Williams for a song on the album. She stressed that it was not a Destiny's Child reunion but rather a song by herself featuring Beyoncé and Williams.
The album opens up with "Freak", an electro-R&B song that was originally recorded by American entertainer Jamie Foxx for his album, "Best Night of My Life." It references Michael Jackson's "Thriller" as well as including a spoken bridge towards the end.
"Kisses Down Low", an R&B and electronic track written by Marquel Middlebrooks, Timothy and Theron Thomas, Rowland, Mike Will Made It, with the latter producing the song.
Rap-Up described the song as a "bedroom banger", whilst Billboard's Andrew Hampp described the song as an "unofficial" sequel to Rowland's most successful and sexually explicit single, 2010's "Motivation" (featuring Lil Wayne).
The third track from the album, is the adult contemporary-influenced "Gone", which features rapper Wiz Khalifa.
Harmony Samuels produced the "base-heavy" and radio friendly "snapping" beat which features a prominent sample of "Big Yellow Taxi", a 1970s single by American singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.
The song lyrically speaks about a "man who played with her heart" and how "she’s done putting up with his games".
The lyrics from Rowland include: "There's a million ways that I could tell you / But I think I would rather show you that it's over / And I won't be back no more", whilst Khalifa raps "I been here before / And you know Kelly never lied / So you can get your stuff / And get to going / I'll get back to getting high".
The album is named after track four, "Talk a Good Game" which features Kevin Cossom. Over a "snaky but sweet" production from T-Minus Rowland sings "I don’t think I can take another broken promise / Why do things the hard way when you can just be honest". Hampp said that Cossom's rap gave the song a "street edge".
The song takes the listener on an emotional journey according to The Honesty Hour.
The next song, "Down on Love", is a midtempo production featuring another classic sample, this time the 1987 song "Rock Steady" by American R&B group The Whispers.
Using her mezzo-soprano vocals, Rowland takes on a downtrodden romantic situation, "We want two different things at two different times / You know how the story go / Easy come easy go".
"Dirty Laundry" was co-written by Rowland, Carlos McKinney and The Dream, and is R&B "confessional" ballad, containing "R&B jam spools" and a piano-led melody. It details a "frank and often poignant commentary" on Rowland's life.
The song is a "brutal" chronicle of the last ten years of Rowland's life, covering her envy of Beyoncé's solo success and the end of an abusive relationship.
Amongst the lyrics, Rowland sings "Kinda lucky I was in her shadow / Phone call from my sister what’s the matter / She said, 'Oh no / You gotta leave' / I’m on the kitchen floor / He took the keys."
This moves onto another track called "You Changed" that features her ex bandmates Beyoncé and Michelle Williams. Lyrically, the song talks about a relationship that has gone "awry."
Rowland takes prominence on the track, though Beyoncé and Williams each get their "own cathartic verse to go off on a clueless ex."
The Honesty Hour compared "You Changed" to the 2004 Destiny's Child single "Girl."
Production on the album then moves on to a light midtempo dance track on "I Remember", which was produced by The Runners. Atop a "tinkling piano and propulsive dance beat", Rowland's "characteristically soulful vocals" can be heard.
Hampp said that the song incorporated tribal music and a vibe that "consciously stops short of being a full-on four-on-the-floor banger."
According to the Honesty Hour, "I Remember" remains firmly a ballad, but incorporates elements of techno and EDM.
Rowland dabbles in some 80's funk pop on the Boi-1da and Matthew Burnett-produced "Red Wine". The song features dreamy synths and a soaring chorus, in a vintage throwback. It was compared to songs by Brandy Norwood. The pace continues on the romantic "This is Love" which focuses on a guy that "got [Rowland] goin’ on cloud 9".
Over the light production, Rowland sings "I’m waiting and anticipating for you to give it to me / Boy I’m trying to hold it inside / Heart racing, my body shaking / ‘Cause when you give it to me, boy you are the truth, I can’t lie."
According to the Honesty Hour, "This is Love" had crossover appear for both R&B and pop radio.
"Street Life" sees Rowland opt for a "no BS" attitude. She sings about how "chasing fast money takes precedence over self-improvement" atop a mid-2000s pop music production, built around layers of hand drums and horn stabs. It was produced by Pharrell Williams and opens with Rowland saying "Ooh ‘dere go my baby daddy!".
The lyrics then continue on to speak about the current problems society is facing, "the recession ate me alive / Tryin’ to get where the breeze is nice / So I can breathe."
Rowland then goes on to speak about social issues and the breakdown of society on lyrics like "coming from the street life we know it's letting go / We like to go to school for education / But the street life we know don't write no notes / It's like parole with the time we’re facing."
Pusha T appears in the song's middle 8 where he raps about honor and US president Barack Obama, "this is for my n****s with them four baby mamas...this Presidential Rollie don’t make me Obama / so don’t judge me by my jewelry, please your honor".
The Huffington Post described "Street Life" as a departure from Rowland's previous "softer sound".
The standard edition of the album finishes with "Stand in Front of Me", a 50's doo-wop inspired "ode to love". The simple production and lyrics include the lines "You just do it / Mean it / Prove it"; Hampp of Billboard said you can expect to hear the song at weddings
"Talk a Good Game" debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, having sold 68,000 copies. It also peaked at #4 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
As of December 2013, it has sold 215,000 copies worldwide.
"Talk a Good Game has received mostly positive reviews.
According to Metacritic, where they assign a weighted average score out of 100 to ratings and reviews from selected mainstream critics, the album received an average of 65, based on 12 reviews.
Kyle Kramer from the Chicago's RedEye entertainment newspaper called "Talk a Good Game" a "fantastically bold re-introduction for those who haven't checked in on Rowland in a decade."
He noted that although at times Rowland experiments with adult contemporary music (on "Gone" featuring Wiz Khalifa) the majority of albums sits "between post-Drake R&B and "high energy highlights". Kramer concluded by calling the album a risk-taking project, which "as a result, [is] the right [move]."
In writing for VH1, Felicia Dennis and Samantha Friedman said that upon hearing the album, every song could have been a single.
Allmusic's Andy Kellman said that "Talk a Good Game" was a similar make-up of pop and R&B music, like Rowland's releases. He described the album as full of "satisfying, if mostly unexciting, material", comparing it to "Here I Am" except for the lack of dance-pop songs on the new album.
Jim Farber from The New York Daily News featured that the "90s-style R&B might keep [Rowland] from receiving the mainstream appeal of her peers".
Aside from "Dirty Laundry", what Farber called "a tad desperate" as the message gets lost in the melody, he thought the album "has a focused sound, based on the slow grind.
As on many of Rowland’s most effective songs of the past, her latest keep the center of gravity low. The songs let her slippery voice slide over loping, bass-driven beats."
The Boston Globe's Sarah Rodman agreed that when people looked beyond "Dirty Laundry", the album "reflects a better balance of sound and sentiment".
In writing for Slant Magazine, Annie Galvin awarded the album three out of five stars.
Commenting that "Rowland is still grappling with how to create an authentic artistic identity," Galvin concluded that: "Talk a Good Game's standout tracks prove that she's closer to carving a niche for herself than she has been on prior efforts that suppressed rather than addressed that difficulty."
Spin's Julianne Shepherd wrote that Talk a Good Game was "a slive above Here I Am."
In the review, Shepherd said: "Rowland is good at anything, it's being bona fide through and through. She's an extremely likable figure in pop music, more relatable than her goddess-sis Beyoncé, more down-to-earth lyrically than many of her R&B peers. Talk a Good Game is her realness in full flower, an album that balances world-weariness about relationships with infectious dollops of sexual agency, tackling the vagaries of love almost exclusively and offering anthems for experiences that every woman has had (or will have) at some point."
Andrew Hampp from Billboard agreed in his track-by-track review. Hampp said "Kelly Rowland finally comes into her own on 'Talk a Good Game' her most focused, consistent and honest album to date. Picking up where 2011's 'Here I Am' left off, the singer's new album has an additional layer of honesty and openness courtesy ... the album is still a refreshing hyper-focus on contemporary R&B."
Vibe's Kathy Iandoli also agreed, saying that "Talk a Good Game sets her far apart from the status quo of mass-produced R&B ... Kelly finally knows who she is and how she’d like to sound."
Robert Copsey from Digital Spy wrote that "Rowland finally hits her stride" and also called the album "a collection of classy and sophisticated R&B."