Toni Braxton & Babyface
“Love, Marriage & Divorce”
After an almost two month wait from the originally scheduled December release, we finally get the new album from Toni Braxton & Babyface just in time for Valentine’s Day. While I fell in love with the lead single “Hurt You” it’s taken me awhile to get into the follow-up “Where Did We Go Wrong.” However, it’s grown on me, and I’m actually glad they released something a bit different than expected (opening track “Roller Coaster” was originally the second single) and it reminds me of Babyface’s “The Day” album as well as Toni Braxton’s “Shadowless” (one of the best songs of her career from her “Libra” album). I’ve listened to the album completely about five times now, and I’m glad that each track individually is very good. Not that any of Toni‘s albums have had filler tracks, but I’ve yet to listen to a whole Babyface record.
Here we get two solo tracks from Toni, the contemporary “I’d Rather Be Broke” and the vengeful ballad “I Wish” which features the crazy line “I hope she gives you a disease.” Babyface‘s sole solo track “I Hope That You’re Okay” is a steady record, one that could see a release further through the album’s cycle. Now, to what most fans have been waiting for, the duet tracks. The two have collaborated many times in the past on Toni‘s albums, but mainly on co-writing records and such. You’d have to go back to the very beginning of Toni‘s career, as to when they dueted on “Give U My Heart” off the “Boomerang” soundtrack for an actual duet by them. Babyface did appear on a later remixed duet version of Toni’s “How Could An Angel Break My Heart” a couple years later, but with this album, we finally get them collaborating on every single song.
While the singles have been solid, it’s when they sorta incorporate a Sade type of vibe, that their material is pure magic. “Sweat” has been talked a lot in interviews and in recent reviews, and it’s no wonder because the song just oozes sexiness and smoothness. Meanwhile, “Take It Back” harkens back to Sade’s “By Your Side” and it manages to create such an incredible impression all on its own. “Reunited” and “Heart Attack” both feature a throwback style, while being dramatically different. The Target edition includes two additional tracks, which extend the groove of the album seamlessly, especially with “Let’s Do It.” In the years since their previous albums, but artists have gotten divorce, so it could be explained why most of the tracks are full of heartbreak and pain. It’s not until we get to “One” that we get a full-on song about marriage, but leaving it for last does give a kind of hope that there’s a happy ending for them and for us.
I’m happy that this album has finally arrived (especially with Toni’s somewhat retirement announcement last year), so please be sure to check it out. R&B music has been in a kind of downswing, as radio has been embracing three genres (hip-hop, dance/edm, americana folk) the past couple of years. This is a very solid and wonderful release, and I can’t wait to see how the duo comes up in their upcoming (March) run on Broadway’s “After Midnight.”
Key Tracks: “Sweat” “Where Did We Go Wrong” “Take It Back” “I Wish” “Heart Attack”
– George P (UrbanBridgez.com)