Here I am
is the third studio album from former Destiny's Child and now X Factor judge, Kelly Rowland. The album includes dancefloor tunes "Down For Whatever" and "Commander" alongside ballads like "All Of The Night" and also sees former Destiny’s Child star Kelly working with an all-star cast of songwriters and producers including Darkchild (Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, The Black Eyed Peas, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson), Tricky Stewart (Beyonce, Rihanna), Rico Love (Usher, Nelly, Beyonce, Chris Brown), RedOne (Lady Gaga) and guest stars Lil Wayne and Big Sean.
No, she's not Beyoncé. Then again, her BFF and former bandmate has the market cornered when it comes to Glasto-stealing, Obama-charming, baby-bump-baring RnB divas. But even if these days her pop career seems to proceed on a single-by-single basis, Kelly Rowland hasn't had a bad run since Destiny's Child disbanded. In fact, she's racked up eight UK top 10 hits either on her lonesome or as a pretty flashy featured artist. And if there must be talent show judges with catchphrases, K-Ro and "put it down" are infinitely preferable to Alexandra Burke's recent attempt to make "OK dot com" happen.
Sadly, much of Here I Am lacks the sass that Rowland displays on The X Factor. The album's first half is a succession of synthy mid-tempo tracks helmed by the sort of expensive RnB producers whose studio doors are always open: Christopher ‘Tricky’ Stewart, Rico Love, Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins. Admittedly, some of it is pretty decent – particularly the Lil Wayne-assisted Motivation and the Rihanna-aping I'm Dat Chick – but personality is lacking.
Thankfully, like a football team given a half-time ear-bashing by the guv'nor, Here I Am steps up in the second half. It's all a bit scrappy though, as this 17-song ‘International Edition’ of the album grabs pretty much whatever it can to maximise its appeal. Rowland's summer house hit, What a Feeling? Check. The Diplo remix of Motivation? Check. A couple of David Guetta collaborations? Check – and who cares that When Love Takes Over is now two-and-a-half years old?
Inevitably, this turns Here I Am into a bit of a grab-bag in its latter stages, but it's a grab-bag that only Tulisa Contostavlos could claim not to find some pleasure in. Clubbier cuts like Forever and a Day and current single Down for Whatever suggest that Rowland's future could lie as a kind of dance diva with street cred. If she's quick, she can crack on while B's under doctor's orders to keep her feet up.
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