Think about it: thanks to the chart-topping success of songs like “Jumpin’Jumpin’,” “Bootylicious,” “Soldier” and “Independent Women (Pt.2),” the quartet/trio known as Destiny’s Child is primarily remembered for---and defined by---- bombastic, booty-shaking and pro-woman pop and R&B grooves. Although their vocals were delivered with power and precision, it was easy to write them off as more trendy than timeless because of the lack of emphasis on the slower and more soothing entries in their hit-filled catalogs, an oversight that they’re striving to correct with this second digital-era compilation release, Love Songs.
Filled with more than a dozen songs from four previous studio CDs that cover the pre-Michelle and post-Michelle years (Destiny’s Child, The Writing’s On The Wall, Survivor and Destiny Fulfilled), Love Songs will either take the most ardent DC fans down memory lane or surprise their more recent followers by demonstrating the group’s capacity for lush harmonies and how lovely Kelly Rowland’s and Michelle Williams’ individual voices can be (when not overpowered by Beyonce’s). “Second Nature” offers one of the most beguiling performances, thanks to the gauzy Isley Brothers sample and the crisp cooing of Latoya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson underneath a dialed-down and delicate Beyonce lead; and “Cater 2 U” showcases their nimble vocal exchanges and how they could be just as sweet to their men as they were sassy (“Whatchu’ wanna eat Boo? Let me feed you/Let me run your bath water, whatever you desire, I’ll aspire”). “Now That She’s Gone” isn’t one of the numbers that they penned together, but all four of their voices chime in with angst-driven authority as they show their thirsty exes the door and keep stepping into a brighter (and melody-driven) future without him.
The selling point of Love Songs, “Nuclear,” marks the first time that Kelly, Michelle and Beyonce have recorded new material together in nearly a decade, and because it is so unlike their expected signature style, it was given a lukewarm reception when it debuted weeks ago. The song’s lack of bold and brassy beats aside, those with the patience need to revisit the Neptunes-created track and re-discover it for what it actually is, a sophisticated and sultry mid-tempo that’s the aural equivalent of cotton candy (sweet and frothy) and gives each of the ladies a verse to shine on. Describing a mutual exchange of sparks and symmetry “when two become one on a quantum level,” “Nuclear’s” elegantly understated vocals are its strongest asset and should be worked into the trio’s repertoire for future recordings (together or apart).
Despite some of the selections being mediocre (“T-Shirt,” “If You Leave”) and dubiously placed (why “Stand Up For Love” didn’t make it on here while their tepid cover of the Bee Gee’s “Emotions” did makes absolutely no sense), Love Songs culls some of the best ballads the members of Destiny’s Child recorded together. It also reminds listeners of how versatile the trio truly was and how their accolades were as well-deserved as their soap-opera-esque infamy. Recommended.
By Melody Charles