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Still standing in the shadows

R & B

Kelly Rowland

Ms. Kelly
Essential: "Comeback"

When she was singing in the shadow of Beyonce in Destiny's Child, Kelly Rowland obviously had the chops to headline her own show if she found the right songs. On her second solo effort, Rowland offers a solid if somewhat safe set of grooves, but the album never takes full flight to become something special. A problem is that the songs here are mostly just serviceable. But Rowland delivers them with confidence and clarity without being overly flashy. You'd hope, though, she'd be a bit more adventurous and dig a bit deeper with her subjects. A few song titles -- "Love," "This Is Love," "Still in Love with My Ex" -- give an idea of the range here. A lot of these cuts could have been sung by any of R&B divas crowding the charts these days. Rowland's producers help out, particularly Scott Storch on "Work" and the bristling "Comeback." Polow da Don gives Rowland some Southern thump for "Like This," on which Eve does little more than play cheerleader. The sweetly sung ballads give Rowland a chance to showcase her voice, but she is going to have to push a bit harder if she wants to take it to the next level. [Ken Capobianco]