“I’m dat chick,” crows Kelly Rowland on the opening track of her third album. Is she, though? Rowland has always been dat other chick, unable to shake the shadow of former Destiny’s Child co-star Beyoncé. On Here I Am, the title telegraphs the message—ladies and gentlemen, the real Kelly Rowland—but the 2011 model sounds just about the same as the Rowland of Ms. Kelly (2007). She’s a strong, agile R&B vocalist who generates little excitement—adept, but not convincing, playing the club diva (in the David Guetta-produced Euro smash “Commander”) and the sexual aggressor (“Work It Man”). Rowland is at her best when she’s milder, on her Number One R&B/hip-hop hit “Motivation,” with Lil Wayne, and the lovelorn ballad “Keep It Between Us.” She’s not quite dat chick—but not everyone has to be an alpha female, after all.
Listen to “Motivation”:
• Random Notes, Rock’s Hottest Photos