Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton

LaFace Records, 1993



Yesterday when I visited our local music superstore with my best friend Prayer, I happened upon a CD in the import section made by "The Braxtons". "Pop quiz, Prayer ... who does this remind you of?"

"Toni. When is the shibal Puff Daddy coming out?"

Lo and behold, the threesome were her sisters (only the blindest of the blind wouldn't see the resemblence). It was way too expensive so I didn't buy it, but I did notice that the cover and back pic was surprisingly similar to Toni's former day pics; dripping with ambition. A family thing?

Before the First Braxton released her establishing album Secrets, she had one of the most successful debut albums of that year and several "music experts" tagged her as a surefire success in the coming years. She also made popular a new kind of pop music; the Midtempo, a cross between R&B and rock ballads.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album Toni Braxton is alive with these borderline acoustics except for one classic ballad called "Best Friend". It gets tiring in "Seven Whole Days", "I Belong To You" and "How Many Ways" but the rest of it is compensated by either good themes or good delivery. Material-wise much of it is like reading Waiting To Exhale (well, at least I found myself juxtaposing scenes) which is guarenteed to appeal to popular taste.

Take away the aforementioned tiring tracks and you're still left with nine good ones. I did flinch in the high notes of "Another Sad Love Song" (pushing the throat; baaaaad), and didn't think it was anything special until Prayer pointed out that my attention always wandered after the first verse. His meaning; her emoting gets good around the end. "Breathe Again", however, fully captured my attention; breathless, smooth, and fully cohesive, it is her signature track hands-down. Elements of this song are used throughout the album.

There are two heavier-background midtempo tracks "Spending My Time With You" and "Love Should Have Brought You Home" which makes her sing a little faster. It's also shown later that she could pull off uptempo (Soul Conventional remix of "Unbreak My Heart") but these are an excellent preview; all the texture makes it sound like hip-hop, but in a more cohesive level (sample-happy songs never did impress me too much).

She shows the range of her voice in "You Mean The World To Me" and "Best Friend", and also shows diva potential in the latter, which she co-wrote and co-produced. After a small interlude ("reprise") of "Breathe Again", the album is over.

Her distinct style is simply gone in her second album and maybe that's a relief; it's not a package that could work twice, and a spin-off of "Breathe Again" might not have been successful. The sound gets sexier, the texture mellow and sticky. Bigger names in the credits, lower notes in the score.

But that's another review.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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