Friday, July 12, 2013

Toni Braxton-Toni Braxton (1993)


I enjoyed that little trek back into the 90's with Lisa Keith so much the other day that I thought I'd stay in the 90's for a little while longer and hang out with another amazing voice in the world of popular music. And that voice belongs to none other than r&b princess Toni Braxton—one of THE premiere voices of urban contemporary radio and one in a long line of prestigious female singers—Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Sade, to name a few—who has that heart-melting effect on me every time I listen to her! Although I haven't been keeping up with Ms. Braxton and her newest recordings into the New Millennium, I will, at the very least, forever keep her self-titled debut album close to my heart, as it has just about all of her best hits and my personal favorites—five of them, to be exact! Might as well start right at the top with the pair of chart-topping radio staples, "Another Sad Love Song" and "Breathe Again", which are both simply r&b P-E-R-F-E-C-T! Nothing sad at all about the former; I get sheer joy every time I hear it! And as for the latter? Well, quite frankly, it just takes my whole breath away! I've always admired these songs because of how Toni's voice can slide from being deep and sultry one moment, gritty and soulful the next, then finally, soaring up into the heavens with lots of burning passion! True, she demonstrates that unmatched skill on just about all of her songs, but these two in particular are the big standouts and, in my mind, the reasong that she rose to superstardom. Though "Another Sad Love Song" may have me happily singing along and "Breathe Again" may leave me utterly breathless, ranking first on the list of favorites from this album—and another that should eternally be on the radio airwaves—is "You Mean The World To Me". I absolutely love the lyrics this song's hook and how Toni presents them, particularly the soulful exquisiteness she puts into the singing of 'matters' and the strong chords she puts into 'baby, baby, baby, baby, baby', all backed by a sweet uptempo groove. Then there's the hit that probably doesn't get as much attention as the previous three I raved about: "Love Shoulda Brought You Home", which is another lyrical masterpiece; no surprise that r&b producer and phenom in his own right, Babyface, had a hand in writing some of it. And speaking of Babyface, #5 on my list is "Give U My Heart", the memorable duet between him and Ms. Braxton from the soundtrack to the 1992 movie, "Boomerang". Except here, you get the special 'Mad Ball' remix, which I think listeners would love just as much as the original non-mixed version. It had been a long time since I heard some of the other songs, so I played them for myself tonight just for old time's sake, suddenly remembering how much I loved "Seven Whole Days" (especially the sizzling spiced-up hiss that Toni puts on at the singing of the word 'nights') and tunes like the jazzy "Love Affair" and "Candlelight". Oh, who am I kidding? I ended up playing nearly the whole album again, and I enjoyed every second of it:

1. Another Sad Love Song
2. Breathe Again
3. Seven Whole Days
4. Love Affair
5. Candlelight
6. Spending My Time With You
7. Love Shoulda Brought You Home
8. I Belong To You
9. How Many Ways?
10. You Mean The World To Me
11. Best Friend
12. Breathe Again (Reprise)
13. Give U My Heart (Mad Ball Mix)

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