A few years back a four-piece group known as The Braxton Sisters were turned down by LaFace largely due to the prominence of TLC. They did of course sign one of them on a solo deal. The result of which was Toni Braxton’s self-titled debut in 1993, and a follow-up three years later in the shape of Secrets. Interestingly, 1996 also saw the remaining sisters (Towanda, Trina & Tamar) release their very own debut So Many Ways on Atlantic.
Now after four years of silence we will be greeted with sets from both Toni—after her legal battles—and this from Tamar. Equally blessed in the looks department, Tamar’s vocal tone is also reminiscent of her sister, although a slightly higher pitch seems to make her voice appear a little more versatile. That said, the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not there is room for another solo Braxton in an already crowded female market?
Her familial ties aside, what we have here is a fairly good R&B album with its share of highlights. Pick of the bunch is the fusion of Darrell “Delite” Allamby’s usual Timbaland-esque style with some rather nice live instrumentation on “Money Can’t Buy Me Love” (not a cover). It may sound like a curious mix but it works a treat on this great track. “Delite” also produces the pleasant ballad “Once Again.” Elsewhere, the mid-tempo “Your Room,” the Missy Elliot-produced “No Disrespect,” and “You Don’t Know” are equally appealing. Other noteworthy tracks come in the shape of the quality ballad “Words,” the nicely harmonised “The Way It Should Be”, and the two-step “Miss Your Kiss.” However, of the remaining tracks there’s the seemingly obligatory Latin-flavoured track (“Tonight”) the ordinary “Get None” & “Get Mine,” and a couple of MOR ballads (“If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” and “I’m Over You”).
Is she good enough to make it alone? Possibly. Despite, occupying an unfortunate position that will invite endless comparison to her sister, Tamar stands up quite well. However, the real let down of this set is the music. Sounding like many other contemporary R&B albums this debut is a little formulaic to set her out from the rest. Nevertheless, this is by no means a reflection upon Tamar. Indeed, the same can be said of albums by artists such as Mya, and even of Toni Braxton’s upcoming Heat album. In a market heavily driven by images a little familiarity isn’t necessarily a hindrance. All in all, a mixed bag which seems to lack the “magic” to make it a hit, but has enough quality to appeal. Worth checking.
// Notes from the Road
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