Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Toni Braxton & Babyface- Love Marriage & Divorce (2014)

Why did I review the album? I’ve never listened to a Toni Braxton or Babyface album, so I thought I’d try something new
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again?  Yes
Something tells me I should like this album more than I did. Braxton voice is simply one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. She can manipulate her voice at any range and does so without effort. But she has enough experience to fall back to suit her partner and the atmosphere of the song on most duets. Babyface does a good job supporting Braxton and chooses tones that highlight his strengths. Also the beats range from a 70’s disco throwback to typical 80’s beats. They are very relaxing and enjoyable.
So, Why the low score? Well, two problems. The track listing doesn’t work for me. I think it was motivated by an attempt to mirror the up and down nature of a relationship, but it made the album hard to follow and broke the rhythm of the cd.
 Secondly, although the music is great to listen to, I don’t think the artist connected with the material in most cases. It felt as though someone gave them lyrics and said “sing this please.” Because they are professional singers, it sounds great, but I didn't feel the emotion I’d expect from the emotionally charged lyrics and subject matter. 
 Also, there is NO variety. Since the name of the album is Love, Marriage and Divorce, I figured a large majority of the album would be about that subject, however I thought it would shift in a few different direction keeping relationships as the main focus, but it did not.
Still I like the album. Braton's beautiful voice and the relaxing beats are enough to carry the album.  
Anyone that’s been through a divorce will relate to this album, but it will likely garner a mixed reaction from everyone else.
My Favs
3. Hurt You
2.  Reunited
1. Where Did We Go Wrong
Overall Rating: 69 with a recommendation to listen then decide

Roller Coaster- It’s a smooth and relaxing song, but that’s the problem. The song is supposed to describe the chaotic nature of a relationship, but instead we are treated to a beautiful happy song. I expected something to display the chaotic nature. Either through variations in the beat or through tonal variations in Braxton’s voce.  3/5
Sweat-According to this song, angry sex can cure all ills. Kidding aside, Babyface’s voice reminds me of Maxwell’s in Ascension. 3/5
Hurt You- When people sabotage relationships with dubious behavior, I doubt their intent (in most cases) is to hurt the other partner. But a lack of some other need(s) clouds judgment. Once a person allows himself to indulge once, the temptation is there to indulge again. I don’t think it’s right, but I understand.   4/5
Where Did We Go Wrong- The beginning of the song is possibly a reference to John 3:16.The words a bit different to fit the situation, but close enough for me to believe it was a done purposely. This song is a perfect follow up for the previous song. The previous song’s poor decisions lead the couple to break up. By the time the relationship reaches this stage it too late to reconcile. But too often, only at this stage do people think about the consequences of their actions. 4/5
I Hope that You’re Okay- A solo for Babyface. I love the beat, but besides that, there isn’t anything that sets this song apart. 3/5
I Wish- A rare solo for Toni Braxton One of the few songs that I truly felt the emotion as she sang.  I appreciate that it’s venomous and angry but doesn’t apologize for it. The piano serves as the foundation for the song and it provides a measure of beauty to a malicious song 4/5
Take it Back-In this track, Braxton and Babyface take turns handling sections of the song. But join forces to handle the chorus. It’s an interesting way to build anticipation for the climax, but it worked. 3.5/5                                                                                 
Reunited- I felt the emotion in this song as well. Babyface adds support for Braxton which leads to a memorable ballad for the duo.    4/5
I’d Rather Be Broke- The beginning lyrics are eerily similar to Blackstreet’s “Before I Let You Go.” I like the song, but it’s doesn’t stand out for me. 3/5   
Heart Attack-70’s disco collides with modern delivery. I’d love this song, but the lyrics are bit lackluster. It would be a perfect candidate for the next single. This track seems out of place because it doesn’t fit with the joyful then angry narrative the rest of the album uses. I would be better if they put this track first because it’s an upbeat song to open the album. It would add to the effect of the later more hateful songs as the relationship soured. 3/5
The D Word- An appropriate end to the album. It offers a slightly happier message than most of its other counterparts.  Even if the lovers cannot be together a part of them will always be present. In a way, it makes sense. Even if the relationship does not work out, the experiences you’ve had with that person still exist. And those experiences can either impact you negatively or positively. Either way, those experiences shape the person you’ll become in the future. So, the effect that person had is always with you.   3.5/5


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