OnLoop 5.6.10

Posted: May 6, 2010 by RA in Music, On Loop
Tags: , , , ,

Hands Tied – Toni Braxton – 2010
I heard this a month or two ago and I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps I was just distracted by the video — a pedestrian offering in which the smokin-hot Braxton (along with her relevance-chasing haircut) tries her hand at a number of female-video staples: the gentleman’s club performer (exemplified by this En Vogue classic), the “Classy Stripper,”  the moving Liebovitz portrait. She looks incredible, but it’s still a ho-hum affair.

So when the album finally got its release this past Tuesday, I figured I’d give it a shot. I recently discovered a soft spot for Toni B. It goes beyond my cliched support for the talented underdog. You see, for me, unless you’re Minnie Riperton or Mariah Carey, your high notes as a female vocalist really don’t impress me.  But if you’re able to go low, and do it right — like Braxton, Anita Baker, and Carey again (Shakira used to be on that list, but her freakish “AutoTune-Unplugged” voice has started grating on my nerves) — you have a special place in my heart.

Toni Braxton has never been someone I looked to for full-album satisfaction, so the fact that Pulse ain’t doin’ shit doesn’t particularly surprise me. Plus, I never got the impression she had full label backing, anyway. Still, no matter how abysmal it is as a cohesive entity, every album she’s put out has had some serious burners — from “Just Be A Man About It” to “Talking in His Sleep” to “Trippin'”

So as I browsed the album for halfway-decent shit worth a download, I realized “Hands Tied” is literally the strongest thing on there. It’s a smoldering, Oak-produced cut with a vocal performance reminiscent of her Babyface-assisted heyday, and a guitar-wail undercurrent that marries her “Trippin'” and Usher’s “You Got it Bad” to brilliant effect.

If the rest of the album had half as much kick, it wouldn’t have flatlined.

  1. Kia says:

    I found my way here via racialicious & have really enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

    Couldn’t agree more about Toni, she’s very hit or miss for me as well. Between the hair, cat suit with cut outs & multiple Wendy Williams show appearances, I wonder how bad her current financial situation is.

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