Feed Limmy Top Albums of 2013: Kelly Rowland “Talk A Good Game”

There isn’t a female R&B artist today who can walk a mile in Kelly Rowland’s shoes. For a woman who is perpetually pitted against her iconic ‘sister’ and former band mate, Beyoncé, Kelly hushes the trivial talk with enviable grace and a formidable new album of her own.

Kelly Rowland Talk A Good Game

Talk A Good Game is unquestionably Rowland’s finest work yet. For anyone who has followed her solo career trajectory from day dot, this album is the pay off you have been waiting for.

It is a focussed and fully-realised modern R&B album, unlike its predecessor Here I Am which was faintly flawed by its forced inclusion of some Ibiza-raided dance numbers.

Kelly co-wrote every track (except the electrifying Jamie Foxx cover ‘Freak’) with some of the industry’s most in-demand writers and producers. Mike Will Made It (hitmaker for Miley Cyrus and Ciara) hemmed the cheeky cunnilingus anthem ‘Kisses Down Low’, which complements Rowland’s back catalogue of brazenly sexual songs. Even though it was the lead single, ‘Kisses’ is by no means representative of the broad topic Talk A Good Game covers.

Watch the video for Kelly’s single ‘Kisses Down Low’:

For the most part, this album conveys an honest and confessional tone on topics surrounding relationships, served with Kelly’s irrepressible southern belle sass.

The gritty standout track ‘Dirty Laundry’ has Rowland taking a tear-streaked flashback to an abusive relationship. The confronting lyrics ripped gossip blogs a new one, especially the lines that echoed her belittled self-esteem when Beyoncé’s career took off. “When my sister was on stage, killing it like a motherfucker. I was in rage, feelin’ it like a motherfucker… Bittersweet, she was up, I was down. No lie, I feel good for her but what do I do now? Forget the records, off the record I was going through some bullshit. Post-Survivor, she on fire. Who’d wanna hear my bullshit?”

Check out the video for ‘Dirty Laundry’:

‘Down On Love’ is one for the small hours spent in solitude when you’re mindlessly thumbing through Grindr and thinking to yourself, ‘What even is love, y’guyz?’. Despite the subtle pace, at its peak, this song packs some of Kelly’s most outstanding vocals on record yet.

Elsewhere, the alluring ‘Red Wine’ is a slow burning number, best served right after a meal of Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ and the bossy bonus track ‘Sky Walker’ (featuring The-Dream) boasts some of the most deliciously cocky lyrics I’ve heard all year. “You need a main girl that fucks you like a side chick, let go and stop fucking around.” She will take your man, honey.

Talk A Good Game strikes the perfect balance of my dream R&B album: slick, sexy and vulnerable.

Feed Limmy Top Albums of 2013: Tamar Braxton “Love and War”

In the many casual conversations I’ve had with friends over wine this year, the one topic I found to be most challenging is convincing anyone that Tamar Braxton’s album is actually good value.

Tamar Braxton Love and War alb

The majority of people I have spoken with have discounted her as being a desperate younger sibling, thirsty for a piece of her famous sister’s success. The ones who have watched Braxton Family Values (or at least seen Tamar’s animated gifs) struggled to take her seriously.

Love and War is a Trojan horse – a curious sight upon arrival and surprising in content. The most celebrated moments on this album remain with the mature R&B ballads that showcase Tamar’s expert vocal abilities. The project’s lead single ‘Love and War’ is a stunner: she lathers up a deep, brooding tone for the verses (as only a Braxton can) before letting rip a war cry in the chorus that snatches a hundred wigs per minute.

Watch the video for Tamar’s ‘Love and War’:

Elsewhere, ‘The One’ is an instant favourite, carted out on a beat that is a bubblegum throwback to 80s funk and hip hop. The sweet lyrics are enough to melt any hard candy heart and make you want to fall in love at Coney Island. Stylistically, ‘The One’ gives a respectful nod to early Mariah Carey records, when she started applying glossy diva vocals over hard-hitting hip hop beats.

The album is also punctuated by sizzling ratchet beats like ‘Hot Sugar’ and ‘Tip Toe’, which sound so wildly ridiculous when you’re skipping through from a string of ballads. But the duality between heartfelt, grown woman ballads and playful bangers is so indicative of the many sides of Tamar – trashy reality TV star and underrated singer.

Watch the video for Tamar’s single ‘Hot Sugar’: