Saturday, May 1, 2010

Braxton's Beat is Back

Her voice oozes sex, and her music, no matter the theme or the lyrics, makes one quiver. With all that, it’s no wonder that her new album is entitled Pulse. The contemporary R&B album is all set to make your heart beat faster with its slick and sexy grooves.

The album’s first single, the sparklingly good “Yesterday,” breathes new life into the R&B ballad genre. It has been compared to Beyonce’s “Halo,” production wise but let it be known that Beyonce doesn’t have anything on Toni. The LP version is pure perfection, making the remix featuring Trey Songz sub par. The song certainly did not need a man’s touch.

A singer known for songs like “Another Sad Love Song” and “Un-Break My Heart,” Braxton doesn’t have a good number of “girl power” tracks, but with Pulse, she is beginning to empower women through song. Aside from the powerful “Yesterday,” Braxton emasculates men with “Wardrobe,” a track in which she compares men to clothes. It’s a bit trite, but still effective. “Woman,” the album’s fiercest moment, goes much deeper into the theme, telling a story of a neglected woman who demands to be treated like a woman with a heart. You go girl!

Aside from the 2000 smash “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” club-bangers have never been the diva’s strongest suit. “Make My Heart,” the LP’s second single, blends funk with electronica to make a unique dancefloor gem. On the other hand, “Looking at Me” isn’t as cringeworthy, as say, a Ke$ha track, the only thing saving the songs is Toni’s seductive voice. Think of the songs as the musical equivalent of when the pulse monitor becomes a straight line. With lyrics like “You got me looking at you, and now you’re looking at me” is about as cliché as it gets. Toni Braxton vocals and Pussycat Doll lyrics don’t exactly set your pulse on fire.

Cooling things down a little bit, Braxton travels down the ballad route on “Heart Never Had a Hero,” which shows off Toni’s super voice and “Pulse,” a track that pours perfection into the LP.Stepping back in time, “Hands Tied” sounds pure 90’s, with its tinkling piano keys and big chorus, but Braxton does it much better on “Why Won’t You Love Me,” a song that practically melts your heart away with it’s sweet and sexy sounds.

Speaking of sexy sounds, from “Spanish Guitar” to “Suddently,” Braxton and Latin ballads blend beautifully, and “No Way, No How” adds to the list of the diva’s ventures into the Latin vibes. On the other side of the field, Braxton almost goes country on the track “If I Have to Wait.”

Fans are aware of the several tracks leaked online in the past few months, but while there were many songs recorded for this project, many will remain unreleased. Songs like “It’s You,” a charming modern day Diana Ross & The Supremes-sounding track, the sexed up “Clockwork,” and the laid-back “I Hate Love” are much stronger contenders for single material than many that did make the LP.

Toni Braxton’s past efforts are hard to surpass. Secrets is a classic, and her debut sounds just as fresh today as it did then. She had a few missteps after that with the lukewarm The Heat and the try-too-hard More than a Woman, but since Libra, Braxton has bounced back.

Pulse sees the iconic diva at her peak once again. Even though she got lost a bit with the club-bangers, she more than found her way back home musically with this record. One of the biggest sellers in the 90’s, the 2000’s saw her career on life support at times. With Pulse, though, her success and music is certain to fly to the top off the charts once again. Braxton is the true definition of a diva.

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