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Album review: Kelly Rowland’s ‘Here I Am’

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It’s hard not to feel a little bad for Kelly Rowland. The only singer except Beyoncé to last the entirety of Destiny’s Child’s run, her solo career has had a similarly second-fiddle quality to it — how could it not? But she does herself no favors by choosing consistently bland material, and her third album does nothing to dispel the sense that Rowland should be more selective. There’s a deflated, defensive quality to “Here I Am,” starting with the lead track, “I’m that Chick,” which features her mewling, “I’m not tacky, I just love myself,” and declaring that she’s “putting on a show so you can check me out.”

“Feeling Me Right Now” is about Rowland falling in love with her own reflection in the mirror, an awkward attempt at cleverness that sounds like something forcefully rejected from the last Robyn album. (It’s also confusing — if you don’t pick up on the metaphor, it sounds like she’s singing about picking up a woman at a club. Maybe she’s going for some of those Katy Perry dollars as well?) The secondhand beats and phoned-in guest spots don’t help, either — the nadir might be Lil Wayne on the inaptly titled “Motivation”: “I let her ride/While I drive her crazy.” By the time the album ends with the stomping Euro-cheese “Down for Whatever,” with lyrics as shrugged-off as the title, it’s hard not to want to find Rowland a life coach.

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Kelly Rowland
“Here I Am”
(Universal Republic)
One star (Out of four)

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— Michaelangelo Matos


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