Monday, December 27, 2010

Artists to Listen For in 2011: Kelly Rowland

If there's a career path more unfairly rotten than that of the second string former child of destiny Kelly Rowland. Aside from a number one duet with Nelly and a moderate if juvenile hit ballad, Rowland has been unjustly absent from the airwaves and singles charts since launching her solo career. Her most recent album Ms Kelly was a mess, the best track to come out of it being a remixed version of what originally was dreadful. Now Rowland has a new team, and over half a dozen leaked tracks surface this year in advance of an as yet titled album that has been pushed back numerous times after a pair of official singles stalled despite their considerable merits.

One possible problem involves a dichotomy in style: Rowland's two official singles were both fine R&B tracks, but she also appeared on two of the best singles from the multitude of David Guetta's 2010 releases. The unexpected genre jump was so intriguing it's hard not to wish to see what a full album of it would be like, but the rest of her leaked tracks haven't indicated any decisive genre choice, although all of them far outshine her previous work.

Hopefully some decision can be reached so that Rowland's long-delayed release can finally see the light of day, because everything I've heard this year has been as good as any female R&B out this year, and often better. "Grown Woman," my favorite of the year's offerings and one of the officially released singles, displays vocal agility, personality and overall quality every bit as solid as Rowland's more famous cousin Beyoncé, and a full LP of similar tracks would be a welcome release.

Still, despite the Guetta-produced dance tracks' relative roughness (most of which can easily be chalked up to Rowland's newcomer status to the style/genre, e.g. pitchiness, need to stay within the singer's comfortable - and considerable - vocal range), a whole album of THAT could truly be something groundbreaking and even great.

Whatever comes from Rowland in 2011, I sincerely hope it comes in the form of an LP. This enormously talented artist more than deserves her rightful day in the sun.

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