Kelly Rowland’s ‘Talk A Good Game’: A track-by-track review

On “Talk A Good Game,”  Kelly Rowland has a lot more than talking on her mind. The ex-Destiny”s Child member focuses on her R&B side on the new set, her first since 2011″s “Here I Am.”  The songs range from salutes to sex to her admission that she is jealous of her buddy/ Destiny”s Child mate Beyonce in a strikingly confessional tune. Though a few of the songs sound too similar, overall, it”s a striking showcase for Rowland”s voice.

We take you track-by-track through “Talk,” which is out today.

1. “Freak”: Rowland gets her freak on with this hand-clapping, synthetic track celebrating the fact that “everybody”s somebody”s freak.” She wants to be yours. Is someone seriously going to say no?  The song, produced by Nate “Danja” Hills, is as sexy as a robotic track can be.

2. “Kisses Down Low”: The seksi time continues with this ode to oral sex. It”s graphic enough that she”s giving instruction (“a little more to the left”). Produced by Mike Will Make It, the song is bolstered by a very deep-voiced man echoing some of the lyrics.  The sexually explicit will either turn you on or be just too much.

3. “Gone” featuring Wiz Khalifa: 
Built around Joni Mitchell”s “Big Yellow Taxi,” this sassy, break-up song is Rowland”s version of “Irreplaceable.” She gave him her heart, but he let it slip through his fingers and he”s going to be sorry in this mid-tempo, Harmony Samuels-produced track that has attitude to spare. Wiz Khalifa plays the boy who thinks she only wants to break up to make up. It”s a nice counterpoint and his giggle is infectious.

4. “Talk A Good Game” featuring Kevin Cossom:
The title track is a mid-tempo shuffler, produced by T-Minus, lamenting why love has to be so hard. A gun-shy Rowland doesn”t think she can “take another broken promise,” so before she gives her heart away again (remember, she”s getting over the heartbreak from the dude in “Gone”), she needs to know her next boy can be honest.

5. “Down On Love”:  She”s working a theme here as “Gone,” “Talk” and “Down” all deal with men who had disappointed her. The sleek, well-produced tune set to a military beat  show”s off Rowland”s vulnerable vocals as she professes she”s been down on love lately after another 5 a.m. call from her loser boyfriend has left her brokenhearted. The song subtly samples The Whispers” “Rock Steady.”

6. “Dirty Laudry”: The track that everyone is talking about from “Talk.” In The-Dream-produced slow dirge-like jam, Rowland confesses to her jealousy of Beyonce post- Destiny”s Child, but that”s not the only revelation. She tells of an abusive relationship in a world-weary tone. And it sounds like Beyonce came to the rescue.  “When my sister was on stage killing it like a mother/I was enraged…. Bitter/Sweet, I was up/she was down….Meanwhile this snake putting his hands on me…”  It”s compelling and exhausting to listen to at the same time. There”s nothing else on the album that matches the vulnerable admissions here.

7. “You Changed” 
“Ladies, y”all want to do it again?” Beyonce asks in a sultry tone on this track that reunites Bey, Rowland and Michel”le Williams. The layered, mid-tempo groove is another “I”ve left you behind” tune, telling a guy to scram. It”s Beyonce”s song and the two others merely provide adornment, but”s nice to hear the three of them together again.

8. “I Remember”: This mid-tempo shuffler, propelled by a thumping beat, cries out for a dance remix, by her buddy David Guetta if not someone else.  In the track that showcases her voice to the best effect, she looks back at a relationship gone bad. With its layered vocals and sly, relentless beat, it”s one of the album”s strongest tunes.

9. “Red Wine”:  Another groove-driven track that relies more on atmospheric production and feel than a strong song. Rowland”s vocals float above the ethereal beats.

10. “This Is Love”: A slow-downed gauzy dance track, prefaced by an organ, finds Rowland finally giving in to love again “Don”t wake me/I must be dreaming,” she sings in the stutter beat song.  The album”s most unreservedly romantic tune.

11. “Street Life” featuring Pusha T:  Pharrell-produced tune, reminiscent of “In da Club” and Destiny Child”s ” Jumpin”, Jumpin”,” the track has an urban, swaying feel and an edge provided by Pusha T”s rap about a dope dealer. Sounds unlike anything else on the album.

12. “Stand In Front Of Me”:
Another slow jam about keeping your man satisfied. This one”s sweeter than it is explicit, but Rowland and Pharrell, who produced the track, hit all the right notes.  She could be talking about a proposal when she sings about “getting down on bended knee.”