LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Seated inside a black sports utility vehicle, one female passenger asked, “How do you like to hear your music, loud or quiet?” As the SUV pulled out, its speakers began throbbing to a sassy beat.
This was no ordinary joy ride, however. Sitting in the chauffeured, Bose-equipped vehicle was Destiny’s Child founding member Kelly Rowland, giving a guided preview of her new album, the R&B/pop-veined “Ms. Kelly.” Rather than use the poor sound system in her hotel room, and with no time to book a studio, Rowland & Co. had opted for the mobile audio system as a quick solution.
While her assistant directed the driver to cruise through Beverly Hills, Rowland explained that the song being played, “Come Back,” was produced by Scott Storch and co-produced by Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd.
The remix-worthy dance track — about that special something females possess that keeps guys returning for more — is the second song on Rowland’s July 3 Music World/Columbia sophomore set.
Opening the album is Rowland’s equally sassy lead single, “Like This,” featuring Eve. The single (No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 13 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) and “Come Back” are two of several new songs added to “Ms. Kelly,” which originally had been slated for a 2006 release.
“It was dragging too much,” Rowland recalled of what she terms the album’s “first draft.” “I tend to go for midtempos and ballads. But I thought, ‘I’ve got to speed this up. I’m 25, not a homebody. I can still shake a tail feather.’”
Underscoring the subtly assertive stance of its title, the album showcases Kelly Rowland, the maturing woman and singer-songwriter, versus Kelly Rowland, former teen idol and member of the mega-successful Destiny’s Child.
“I was searching on my first album and didn’t know exactly what I wanted,” she said. “I knew I loved alternative music, rock and R&B. I just wanted to fuse it all together.”
That fusion spawned her 2002 solo debut, “Simply Deep.” Netting first-week sales of 77,000 and eventually selling 602,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the album spun off five chart singles including the Grammy Award-winning No. 1 pop and No. 1 R&B/hip-hop track “Dilemma” featuring Nelly.
In the five years since, Destiny’s Child retired and Rowland, who has logged several TV and film acting credits, broke off her engagement to Roy Williams of the Dallas Cowboys. Reflecting those growing pains, her songs on the new album segue from fun-loving and introspective to vulnerable and open. The lyrics she wrote for such tracks as “I’m Still in Love With My Ex” and “Every Thought Is You” further reveal the artist
“I had several word-vomit moments during the course of this record,” said a laughing Rowland, referring to instances when lyrics seemed to pour out during stints with co-writer Lonny Bereal.
Capitalizing on her international popularity, Rowland swept through Europe in April and is due back in early June. A mid-June stopover in Japan is scheduled before the album’s international release (June 25). Then she returns stateside for several TV appearances later in the month, including “Today,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and the BET Awards. She will also perform at the Essence Music Festival (July 5-7) in New Orleans.
Back at the hotel to relax before performing at the BMI Pop Awards tribute to the Bee Gees, Rowland apologized again for the SUV session.
“This album is very personal,” she declared before hopping out of the car. “What I wanted to say, what producers and writers I wanted to work with; it was everything coming from me. I found my way with this record.”