Throwback Review: Kelly Rowland x Simply Deep

(Released October 22nd, 2002)

Before she made a name for herself as the Queen of Ratchet-Righteousness, Kelly Rowland was just trying to branch out a bit from her former position as second lead vocalist in Destiny’s Child. That journey started with her debut album Simply Deep, but does the content live up to the name?

To shortly answer that question, I’d say no, which I assume past and present Kelly would as well. Simply Deep is a forced try at breaking out and being…well…deep (well as deep as a Pop album released in the early 2000s could be) and the marks just don’t hit consistently enough for this album to be memorable unless you just LOVE vibing out to the subpar music of the 2000s for nostalgic purposes. But, there are glimpses of potential spread throughout the album, they may be spread sporadically, but they’re there.

Like the opening track for instance. Stole chronicles the lives of three teenagers who all have their lives, or dreams, stolen from them in one way or another. The prominent soft rock influence is done well and helps convey its overall message. Haven’t Told You and Everytime You Walk Out That Door are both well-rounded love/love lost records. Train On A Track is a good shot at making a Pop/R&b song that can be for any and everyone.

Fun Fact: Did you know Train On A Track appeared on the soundtrack for Kelly Rowland’s second film? After seeing success with her appearance in Freddy vs Jason, she struck moderate recognition with 2005’s The Seat Filler co-starring Duane Martin and executive produced by Will & Jada.

Can’t Nobody is playful record that hints at Kelly’s later evolution into the sensual goddess she is today. And of course you can’t forget Dilemma! While it wasn’t the albums official lead single, the success of the Nelly and Kelly collaboration was still on the fast track with no signs of slowing down. The song earned the singer her first solo Grammy and forced Columbia Records to push her solo career before the other members of Destiny’s Child. To this day it’s still a feel good record that can, without a doubt, be defined as timeless.

Unfortunately, that’s the end of the positives. Every other song on Simply Deep fall extremely short of making an impact or even being “cute.” (Love Lives In) Strange Places sounds like it could’ve been  a leftover from Survivor that Mathew handed to Kelly while in the midst of rushing to put this album together. While we all know Kelly Rowland-Knowles can sang, her vocals on Beyond Imagination come off as flat, uninspired and misplaced. Make U Wanna Stay, which features Joe Budden, is carried by production that sounds like something R. Kelly would’ve tried to make a hit out of back then (or even today) but the track is dissatisfying to say the least.

Overall, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly treats Simply Deep like  Janet Jackson’s first two albums; Yes Janet released two whole albums before Control, I know it’s shocking. Even though the overall album failed to meet the high expectations set by fans and her record label, there are still very slight glimpses into the potential that Kelly Rowland possessed outside of being an original member of Destiny’s Child. This star potential would shine brighter and brighter as her solo endeavors started rolling out, Regardless of if she had the confidence and actually noticed it at the time.

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