Tamar Braxton - Love & War

Tamar Braxton
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She's fiery, flamboyant, and so much of a one-woman-drama-generator that it can be spread over multiple TV show outlets. But, given her position as the baby of the Braxton Bunch, who could blame her? Being too over-the-top, too extra and too loud is the way that Tamar gets her needs met, and it's actually worked out for Mrs. Braxton-Herbert quite well, if not as timely or as tidily as she'd probably prefer. In fact, that whirlwind of an approach to life is what listeners will hear---and find beauty in---while absorbing the contents of the performer's long-awaited sophomore CD, Love And War. Like its creator, the the music veers from maddening to mesmerizing and a few places in-between, but overall, the results are worth the effort and definitely won't leave you bored. 
 
With a hefty who's who list of producers (The Underdogs, Bryan-Michael Cox, Harvey Mason Jr. and even Babyface) and half of the tracks being co-written by Ms.
She's fiery, flamboyant, and so much of a one-woman-drama-generator that it can be spread over multiple TV show outlets. But, given her position as the baby of the Braxton Bunch, who could blame her? Being too over-the-top, too extra and too loud is the way that Tamar gets her needs met, and it's actually worked out for Mrs. Braxton-Herbert quite well, if not as timely or as tidily as she'd probably prefer. In fact, that whirlwind of an approach to life is what listeners will hear---and find beauty in---while absorbing the contents of the performer's long-awaited sophomore CD, Love And War. Like its creator, the the music veers from maddening to mesmerizing and a few places in-between, but overall, the results are worth the effort and definitely won't leave you bored. 
 
With a hefty who's who list of producers (The Underdogs, Bryan-Michael Cox, Harvey Mason Jr. and even Babyface) and half of the tracks being co-written by Ms. Braxton-Herbert herself, it's apparent that she has plenty to say and her vocals--which have all the heft and skill of her older sister's while still maintaining a unique timbre--will definitely command your full attention. Sometimes Tamar is evocative and emotional, such as in the hit title song and on the love-torn ballad "Pieces," where she eerily channels her older sister Toni in delivery, but makes the anguish and indignity her own ("If you can't gimme all your love, I don't want your love---no, no, no no baby..."). "Stay And Fight" is a soft and supple plea to 'ride-or-die' for their wounded relationship instead of reading its last rites ("I wanna stay and fight for you, fight til my heart is black and blue/fight til' there's nothing left, not a single strand, of the love we had"). "All The Way Home" and "Sound Of Love" are two sides of the same coin, the former fighting the desire to make love and the latter giving in to the erotic urges with thundering, throbbing reverb and a lusty proclamation that "ain't nothin' wrong with the sounds of makin' love." 
 
Given Tamar's flashy persona, it's ironic that the slower moments and mid-tempos are where she sparkles the most: the finger-snapping "Prettiest Girl" is sweet and dreamy, cheerleading her man for how he shows unabashed adoration ("When my hair looks a mess, he's gon' tell me I'm beautiful/ when I'm runnin' round here and I ain't got no make-up on, I'm beautiful") and "Thank You Lord" isn't overtly gospel, but Tamar pours conviction into every grateful line and verse.
 
The danceable ditties, a pair of interludes and three full-fledged songs, are hit-and-miss: "The One" is downright lazy, sampling The Notorious B.I.G. and Mtume for a warmed-over interpolation of "Juicy" (yawn), and of the two blips, "One On One Fun" had the most potential---"She Did That" is so auto-tuned and effect-driven that sounds more like a video game. "Hot Sugar" is tart and tangy fun, an aerobic 'sexy-back' manual for that special night in: "Count it out, give that man what he dreams about/t-shirt and some heels on while he chase you all around the house." "Tip Toe" is also elastic and infectious, referencing her fame and status as she tells an undercover boo to stay incognegro and not make new fodder for Wendy Williams' 'Hot Topics.' Meow!
 
After the years of ill fits and missed starts following her 2000 debut, Tamar Braxton proves that her gifts developed well with the fullness of time and are just as irresistible as her now-signature catchphrases. Easily one of late summer's most enjoyable releases, putting Love And War "on-deck" will help R&B and pop lovers to "get their lives" and see Mrs. Herbert as a true artist on the rise, not just the youngest Braxton who acts like "a-hot-mess-dot-org." Get with the program or miss the fun while you "have several seats"---the choice is yours.
 
Highly Recommended. 
 
By Melody Charles
 

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