The first member of Destiny’s Child to release her own mainstream pop album, Kelly Rowland enters solo with a hit already in hand. With “Dilemma,” her duet with Nelly, the singer is the first member of the R&B super-group to hit #1 on her own. Like “Dilemma,” “Can’t Nobody” features a catchy, retro hook and slick production, but Rowland’s voice isn’t as powerful as Whitney Houston’s or even Beyoncè Knowles’s. References to Destiny’s Child abound, lyrically (”[Love is] like the child of destiny”) and sonically (see “Love/Hate” and the party track “Past 12”). Beyoncè‘s little sister Solange, whom Sony has been prepping for solo stardom for over a year now, sings back up on the album’s title track and contributes some of the album’s worst lyrics; the metaphors on “Obsession” are a bit icky (“The closest thing to epidemic/Slightly your disease/A love without a cure”) while “Beyond Imagination” is just plain laughable (“Your heat burns through life lava/And rapes your problem solver”). From “Everytime You Walk Out That Door” to the Toni Braxton-esque “Haven’t Told You,” Simply Deep‘s ballads are all gloppy-goo and no soul; but through it all Rowland manages to keep her cool. The album’s best tracks, the light and breezy “Train on a Track” and “(Love Lives In) Strange Places,” infuse the singer’s lush harmonies with acoustic guitars and poetic wordplay.
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