After a three-track lead-up to a five-track project, Kelly Rowland’s K EP has finally arrived. After 2020’s great standalone single “Coffee,” new anticipation for a unique sound from the R&B legend was peaking. It seemed odd to look at this track list and not see that song, but still the other three singles that led up to it. Yet when you hear all five on the official EP together, it all computes. “Coffee” was relatively modern in its style but in a more bubbly trap way. K keeps Rowland’s core pop R&B feel but exudes it through a tone of reckoning.
The starting warbling bass and dark piano on the opening track “Flowers” creates a canvas for what seems like a long-overdue display of gratitude. “Time won’t slow down, for no one / If I don’t do it now, I’ll blow it / The way you hold me down, I owe it / I know you see me now, I’m glowing,” are the opening lyrics. The words and sounds of the track feel momentous and cathartic, as if this is a complicated admission process yet encouraging for Rowland’s forward progress with this person. This song immediately perks up your ear as it feels different from the type of music you’d expect from Rowland, especially in terms of the kind of intensity.
The next one-two-punch of “Black Magic” and “Hitman” explore Afro-Caribbean styles previously unexplored by the singer yet again catered to her core artistry. Rowland’s smooth yet punchy vocal delivery feels as comfortable in these pockets as we have been in our sweatpants, all quarantine. “Crazy” seems to flip a soul sample at the top of the track that then turns into a stank-face-inducing dance song that explores embracing her own lack of sanity in a love that makes her happy. This song has a sense of nostalgia to it that again feels different yet confidently pleasant for Rowland.
The stand-out track, at least for me, of the whole EP, however, is the stripped-down acoustic track four, “Speed of Love.” This song represents a moment of clarity for Rowland as she comes out of the previous track and readjusts her stance on the reckless nature of the love she wants. She sings, “Love should be wild, careless and free / Do what you want as long as you’rе focused on me / Make mе feel I’m the only one / If even for a moment / We could go one hundred / But then we’d miss somethin’.” Rowland exists in a wildly human gray area of wanting excitement and balance simultaneously. The track’s build is full of compelling luster.
She finally lands on what seems like a more traditional R&B track with “Better” to close. However, the track weaves and dips through being a classic piano ballad in the hook and a steel-drum-filled bop in the verses. It cleverly shows a seamless set of transitions that evoke the constant back and forth Rowland is grappling with. It’s safe to say this offering is her most exciting solo work to date. This may be blasphemy to some, but it felt like I was hearing the most interestingly clear perspective from Rowland I’ve taken in.