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Album Review

Album Review: Tamar Braxton “Love and War” (3.5 out of 5 stars)

Tamar Braxton Love and War
Words by Edward T. Bowser, SoulInStereo.com

Weird pet peeve of your boy Edd: When music fans totally forget about an artist’s debut album and consider their sophomore effort as the inaugural release.

It happened with Usher way back in the 90s, when my female friends called shirtless Usher’s My Way his debut, totally forgetting about his baby-faced first album. More recently, when Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without U” dominated radio in 2006, many treated him as a new artist. Y’all must’ve forgot about the Jesus lookalike on the bicycle.

These days, we have Tamar Braxton, a “new face” in the R&B who is anything but. While reality TV has helped her gain new generation of fans – currently making her more relevant than her superstar sister – Toni, more mature R&B fans know better.

Tamar has not only provided background vocals for some of Toni’s biggest hits, she’s an accomplished artist in her own right, releasing So Many Ways with her sisters in 1996 and her own solo album in 2000.

So no, Tamar ain’t new to the game. But unlike her last two albums, this time, the spotlight is shining directly on her. Love and War definitely makes the most of her newfound fame.

When it comes to Love and War, I have good news and bad news. The bad news: You’ve already heard the best the album has to offer. The good news: Those songs are STILL amazing.

Tamar totally loses herself in emotion on title track. While her range is impressive, it’s the soul-shattering emotion that will bring you to your knees. In a genre that’s currently suffering from hollow performances, it’s refreshing to hear such passion.

The album is more than torch songs, though. “The One” is the perfect summertime banger. The sample of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” (or Biggie’s “Juicy” for the young’ns out there) makes it instantly familiar and inviting. The album’s midtempo cuts also shine – “All The Way Home” and “Where It Hurts” are tailor-made for Tamar’s passionate vocals. When it comes to wrestling with pain on wax, she has few peers.

Love and War’s biggest flaws lie in its uptempo tracks. “Hot Sugar” is annoyingly repetitive and simplistic, as are “One on One Fun” and “She Did That.” Thankfully those two are relatively brief. “Tip Toe” is the least offensive of the hip-hop influenced cuts, but Tamar just doesn’t sound comfortable. Lines like “I don’t want my business on the Wendy Williams Show” come off kinda hokey. It makes the listening experience quite uneven.

Even with its flaws, it’s safe to call Love and War Tamar’s best work. Unlike some R&B stars from the 90s, her voice is even stronger now than it was way back then. Pair stronger writing with those amazing vocals and her next project definitely will be a winner.

Just don’t call her next album her “debut,” please.

Best tracks:
“Love and War,” “The One,” “All The Way Home”

3.5 stars out of 5

Can’t get enough of Edd? For more album reviews, relationship talk, pop culture news and Keith Sweat hero worship, visit SoulInStereo.com and follow him on Twitter @etbowser.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree with your statement “Love and War’s biggest flaws lie in its uptempo tracks.” I actually like the uptempo tracks. I give this album a 4.5!

  2. This review is ok but off on a few things. Hot sugar may be simplistic, but it is infectious and after a few listens it is what you trying to HEAR at the club for SURE. Also, “she did that” is fun. “When you see me with my bag, yea her name Celine.” Why you bringin up usher first album when obviously he made several blockbuster albums? And? #hating

  3. The album is good. I like the songs where she is showing off her pipes more than the hip hop ones, but you know Tamar has some ratchet in her and she likes to pop it, so let her have her fun. I didn’t like Hot Sugar at first but it grew on me.

  4. Pretty spot on review. I agree with most of the statements you made. For those of u that don’t know, Tamar’s debut cd came out around the same time as Usher’s debut cd. That is why the reviewer brings it up.

    • Tamar’s debut album did not come out when usher’s debut album was released. Usher’s debut came out in 1994, and Tamar’s was released in 2000. Get your facts straight before commenting next time.

  5. This album is amazing, I can’t fault it. These are the sort of articles that make those that haven’t heard the album, walk away from a great album. Your review is terrible, what an awful description of one of the best albums I’ve ever heard in a long time. And I rarely buy/download music. Tamar is amazing! She’s just gained herself a UK fan.

  6. Everybody chill. The album is far from terrible. There are some great songs but there are some lackluster songs too. If you’re a Tamar fan, by all means, go cop it and play it for the rest of eternity (or, more likely, for like 3 weeks before you get bored). But I’m not gonna gloss over flaws. Fans deserve better than that.

  7. Everybody chill…sorry Edd not going to happen. You don’t have to be a die hard fan to know this CD is great. Hot Suga is a fun, flirty song any woman who likes to shake it for her man can appreciate it tempo and sexy feel. You really need to get over your self. The fast songs are fun, the slow songs are true r&b, the inspirational song at the end shows someone who is really grateful what they have. I agree with the first response “kill yo’self”

    • If people feel the need to tell someone to “kill them self” just because they have a difference of opinion on music, which is subjective in the first place, I think they have bigger issues than worrying about an album review that gave their favorite artist an ABOVE AVERAGE score.

  8. Tamar’s album did NOT come out with Usher’s debut cd, her album was released in 2000. People are always running with information. This album is great. Hot Sugar is fun, sexy, and sassy. Love and War is the best track I agree, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of the cd is lackluster. I give it 4 stars!!!

  9. Love and War is the truth. Finally getting real music back in the mix more. Tamar doin her thang. Its not perfect but what album is???. I loooove jill scott and there are a few of her songs that are like wth lol. Everyone isn’t going to be pleased. Ed has a right to opinion. Except it and keep it moving. Tamars did that IMO!!!!

  10. Just my opinion: Outside a few songs, the rest is not good. My problem is that the instrumentation is too much, it is too much going on. It sounds too industrialized, and she should have done more songs in which her voice was front and center followed by a light instrumentation in the background. I think she used some voice distorter in there, which she has no need to. I would have to say outside the songs she already released, the rest of the album wasn’t put together well IMO. Hot suga, is a catchy song, but have you noticed that her background vocals are in the front, but when she sings the verses, her voice is in the back, and you got all these sounds going on as if you are in a factory building. Hot suga = Hot mess. Then check out the song “Pieces” which has a slower tempo, but why in the world when she sings the chorus there is this really fast synthesized beat. really? Plus, “The One”, I really like this song, but there is one particular beat in the song that really doesn’t need to be there and seems out of place, and I actually think it is the sampled part from juicy that just doesn’t quite go well with the song. It is ok at the beginning but to hear it throughout the song sounds a little annoying.

  11. So I didn’t get to say the songs that I like (despite the instrumental arrangement): “The One”, “Love and War”, “All the Way Home”, “Where it Hurts” is very good. Overall, she has more good songs than bad ones. The only thing that I really dislike is some of the musical arrangement even to some of the better songs BUT I give the album 3.5

  12. I am not the biggest Tamar fan but my LOVE for R&B music is greater than any issues with Tamar so I yeah I paid my $8 /$9 whatever for LAW. Its funny all the songs mentioned in the review were the only songs I find myself repeating. “All the way home” left me stun! “Stay and Fight” I think that the name, had me repeating. Tip Toe stayed in my head longer than I care to admit. And of course “The One” and “LAW” got a play here in there. Other than those mentioned I haven’t connected with any others. Nevertheless I appreciate Tamar’s album because it gives me some good R&B to salivate over for a while. My only issue is Tamar not being able to pull the songs off live. I noticed this on Wendy Williams as well. She is a good singer with great range but the straining has me wondering how far can she really go without damaging her cords?

  13. I JUST discovered Tamar 2 hrs ago and I am obsessed! Her voice is amazinggggg and I have listened to the album and it is amazing. I’m sorry but no one out has this voice not even the beloved “superstars”. I am going to now stream all those reality shows I never watched.

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