It’s no secret that in music, as in life, success and failure are largely dependent on timing, and so with that in mind it’s hard not to feel just a little bad for Michelle Williams, the Johnny-come-lately third member of Destiny’s Child, who has always had a hard time establishing herself inside the group, let alone outside it, and who now finds herself releasing a new record at a time when her efforts will likely be eclipsed by her former group members. And so, after a series of delays, Williams’s third solo album, Unexpected, arrives on shelves just as people have begun to buzz about Beyoncé’s upcoming album, and when honorary DC sister Solange has made an unexpected critical impact with the oddball surrealism of her recent sophomore effort, Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams. Considering Unexpected is a fairly decent album and by far the least pretentious, unashamedly pop record to be made by a DC member so far, it’s all a bit unfortunate. Anyone who has heard the first single, “We Break the Dawn,” already knows that Williams, whose solo work to date has been gospel-oriented, has on this occasion stepped outside of the confines of the church and into the dark of the clubs, embracing au courant euro-pop sounds, and it’s a move that works well for her. “We Break the Dawn,” which boasts a chorus wrapped up in some awesome swirling synth-pop majestics, has done relatively well on the dance charts but deserved to cross over. Meanwhile, ignoring some atrocious lyrical hiccups, “Til’ the End of the World” is a moody, frostbitten electro lament, and in the lush balladry of “The Greatest,” Williams could find the hit she needs.
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