After hanging out her dirty laundry and telling us where she wants her kisses, Kelly Rowland finally dropped Talk A Good Game, the singer’s most personal effort to date. We gave it a solid four out of five in our review, noting “Game consists of slickly produced mainstream R&B that skews provocative in its subject matter, even as ballads tend to dominate.” On her fourth studio album, the former Destiny’s Child member has found her genre niche, however, “there’s still a versatility at play that feels welcome, like she’s working quite hard to cross all her Is and dot all her Ts: The bangers are super sexy and the ballads are super soulful; there’s enough driving-through-Atlanta-with-the-top-down midtempos to satisfy.”
As for the other critics out there, Rowland’s latest LP talked a good game to some, and a meh game to others. Head below for our roundup of reviews.
:: The New York Daily News fears the singer’s ’90s-style R&B might keep her from receiving the mainstream appeal of her peers: “Only a few of the songs have the melodic breadth of pop. ‘Gone’ uses a Joni Mitchell sample and some finger snapping to stoke a brighter sound, while ‘Freak’ has the stabbing synth hook of house music. Otherwise, Rowland’s album lacks the bounce that helped Bey, or Rihanna, reach a wider audience.”
:: Boston Globe suggests listeners look past the buzz-worthy “Dirty Laundry,” as “a good chunk of the rest of the album — a mix of easy pop, shiny dance tracks, and a dab of retro soul — reflects a better balance of sound and sentiment.”
:: AllMusic gives Rowland 3.5/5 stars, although their review was somewhat mixed, claiming “the album quickly stabilizes with satisfying, if mostly unexciting, material. Other than the lack of European dance-pop, the main difference between this set and Here I Am is the presence of Rowland’s most revealing and powerful song,’Dirty Laundry.’”
:: Billboard applauds Rowland for making 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.”
:: RedEye summed it up well, calling Game “an album that will please both those who have grown up alongside Rowland and those young enough to think of her as part of the canon. ‘Talk a Good Game’ isn’t always the safest move. As a result, it’s the right one.”
:: Slant Magazine gave the album 3/5, noting hope for the artist’s future, “Though the song suggests Rowland is still grapping with how to create an authentic artistic identity, 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.”