She’s a talk show host, reality TV star, one of the contestants on the latest season of Dancing With the Stars, a wife and a mother and yet Tamar Braxton still has the drive to release new music. Calling All Lovers, the follow up to her breakthrough as a R&B star, Love And War, came out yesterday.
Over a year in the making, the album reportedly draws from Tamar’s past romantic experiences and reflects her personal growth. A growth that is tangible in her music as well. Tamar ditched the silly ratchet Urban tracks of the last album, to give room to more mature songs and more sophisticated R&B production.
Calling All Lovers opens with the chants of “Angels & Demons,” a tropical groove that was released a couple of weeks ago to promote the album pre-order with a colorful music video. While her diction suffers a bit, Tamar is able to ride the Island beat with a nice contrast between the highs and lows of her voice.
The current single, “Catifsh,” follows with a sparsely melodic 90s influence. It’s definitely this album’s equivalent to Love And War‘s “The One.” The hook “don’t flex, baby, don’t flex” is as far as we’ll get from this album in terms of catchphrases, but it’ll do. The next tracks form a group of traditional R&B songs: “Simple Things” deals with the importance of feelings as opposed to material possessions in a relationship, “Never” is about abandonment, “Circles” is a 1950s doo-wop nod about heartbreak with great potential as a single, while the old school influences climax with the top 20 R&B hit “If I Don’t Have You,” which has the biggest vocal performance on the album.
The second half of the album starts with “I Love You,” a short midtempo number with references to the early 2000s drum+piano sound and Mariah Carey’s melodies, which serves as an interlude. “Makin’ Love” is a vocal experiment that showcases the beautiful lower register running in the Braxton family. Years of work as a background vocalist on the road with her big sister Toni, have perfected Tamar’s skills as an arranger and it shows on this track, where every harmony and cooing is wisely calculated to give the song an effortless sultry vibe.
Towards the end, the pace picks up with the late 70s groove of “Must Be Good to You,” Tamar’s most upbeat and joyous track thus far, while the standard edition of the album closes with the piano ballad “King,” premiered via a live performance on The Real a few weeks ago.
Overall, it’s safe to say that this album is a great R&B record. While it may not sound as immediate as Love And War did, with its mix of contemporary tracks and ballads, it’s a more artistic album and it feels like a right progression for Tamar, who should continue to be proud of getting a second chance in this industry that had rejected her many times before. As long as she finds a way to display her talents, the public will be there for her.