Only a dozen songs will appear on Kelly Rowland’s fourth album “Talk A Good Game,” due June 4 on Universal’s Republic Records, but she’ll happily tell you about dozens of others that have been recorded since 2011’s “Here I Am.”
“I think I recorded around 70-something songs for this album. I had to narrow it down to 12 – you know hard that is!” she says. “Especially when you’re in love, like your heart pumps for 35 of them. I kept going back and forth with my A&R and my manager, we’ve all been on this incredible journey together, and they’re just like ‘Save it for the next album!’ Because you just get so passionate and excited about these songs, you lived with them, you birthed them along with the producers. You become so attached.”
Rowland is on the phone en route to a soundcheck for a live-streamed concert for Courvoisier, her first time performing live since popping out of the stage for Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Half Time Show in February. The performance was the kick-off event for Courvoisier’s new “Courvoisiology” program, developed with ad agency Walton Isaacson to be a multi-sensory event featuring cognac-infused cocktails and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Roble and Co. designed to redefine the boundaries of cognac. Other events will follow in Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta later this year. Additional details are at Facebook.com/CourvoisierCognac. “I was excited to perform because it’s been a minute since I’ve been onstage,” Rowland says. “I’ve been in the studio so much, this is a nice little escapism from all the hard work.”
She’s particularly passionate about “Talk A Good Game” because its sound “feels like everything I wanted to make as far as music and R&B. I wanted to make sure my roots were really pronounced on this album,” she says. That included working with a long list of guests — Mike WILL Made It (lead single “Kisses Down Low”), Boy Wonder, T-Minus, The-Dream and Pharrell are among the list of confirmed producers.
Additional sessions with R&B legends Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis didn’t make the final cut, but the collection was designed to recall the music of Rowland’s childhood — she cites New Edition, Pebbles and Babyface as particular inspirations. “I remember having my first conversations with Boy Wonder and T-Minus,” Rowland says, “They can give you the shirt-off-their-back story. They love R&B the way I do. It was so wonderful to be in the same creative space.”
Pharrell also does double duty on vocals for a duet, with additional features from Wiz Khalifa and — surprise! — Beyoncé and Michelle Williams. “It’s not a Destiny’s Child track, it’s me featuring Beyoncé and Michelle,” Rowland says of the latter collaboration, the trio’s first since the Pharrell-produced “Nuclear” for January’s Destiny’s Child compilation “Love Songs.” As for the song’s sound? “Soulllllll,” she says with a laugh.
“Talk A Good Game” takes its title from the song of the same name, one of Rowland’s favorite tracks on the album that doubles as an overarching theme. “I decided to speak on what I was doing in my life. There’s so much talking and people gonna be like ‘Is she really talking about this on the album?’ Even down to things on ‘Kisses Down Low.’ People are like, ‘you’re talking a good game right now.’ I thought it would be really cool to name the album after those reactions.”