Tamia: Love Life

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Posted September 24, 2015 by in r&b
tamia-album-01-header

Rating

Overall
 
 
 
 
 

3/ 5

Details

Genre: ,
 
Producer: , , , , , , ,
 
Label:
 
 
 
 
Genre: Soul, R&B
 
Producer: Shep Crawford, Polow da Don, The Stereotypes, Godz of Analog, Lil Ronnie, @Popwansel, @Oakwud, Outer Earth
 
Label: Def Jam
 
Format: Digital download, compact disc
 
Time: 43:47
 
Release Date: 9 June 2015
 
Spin This: "Like You Do," "Stuck With Me," "Love Falls Over Me"
 

Pros:

Decision to compete with other contemporaries a good move; vocally sounds like classic Tamia.
 

Cons:

Tired and poorly pieced filler thrown into the mix. "Sandwich and a Soda" a bad choice for a single
 

Tamia jumps in crowded lane of sexy vixen soul, but looses some of that big voice street cred

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Tamia jumps in crowded lane of sexy vixen soul, but looses some of that big voice street cred

When Quincy Jones put Canadian singer Tamia on the block with Rod Temperton-penned “You Put a Move On My Heart,” the bar was set very high, even for her. The song was utter perfection, a Quiet Storm masterpiece. Everything else that came down the barrel has only nestled in its shadows. 2000’s “Stranger In My House,” possessing the same drama and tenacity of Toni Braxton’s “Un-break My Heart,” comes a good close. Meanwhile, 2012’s “Beautiful Surprise” dropped slick urban beats into a sexy dreamscape and put a much-needed spark back into her work regimen, but that’s now been over three years ago and it’s a far cry from “You Put a Move.”

It’s sad to know the singer, still blessed with spine-tingling vocals, is constantly being reminded of her 20-year old Mount Everest moment, knowing that her chances of ever topping it are grim. On her sixth solo album, Love Life, her first with Def Jam, Tamia dips in the grown-folks’ tradition of sultry R&B akin to ‘90s SWV-like sexism and hopes to reinvent herself in a new world of dominant slow-paced R&B. Songs like the sultry opener “Love Falls Over Me,” “Chaise Lounge” (“Boy, take my clothes off”), the Janet-sounding “Lipstick” and the Human Nature-touched “Special” are pleasant surprises, pushing her to implore more steam into her boudoir romancing. Her most charming offering, “Like You Do,” plants Prince synths, Gap Band swirls and K. Michelle swag into one of her best radio-ready melodies. The Polow da Don-produced “Stuck With Me” is possibly the most sensual the album gets. Thankfully she doesn’t fall into an abyss of sleaze, something many of her younger peers are guilty of falling into.

Though midtempo and slow tracks dominate Love Life, she occasionally drops a few interesting outtakes. “Day One” turns her attention towards piano-built AC, while the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil-penned “Black Butterfly,” a classic on Deniece Williams, pounces with live instrumentation and loud drumming as if she’s formulating a reprise of “Stranger in My Room.”  Here she goes for high volume dramatics, going for Jennifer Holliday antics instead of the familiar songbird approach Niecy went for.

Most of the tracks are also surprisingly good and well-written, a step above the subpar stuff she’s had to endure in the past. But that doesn’t mean she’s out of the woods from being tortured with criticism. “You Give Me Something,” a bonus track on select deluxe editions, is an unforgivable tumble, which drops Jessie J soul and faux-Motown riffs on her. Its conclusion is as damaging as Whitney Houston’s nightmarish “Celebrate.” And “Sandwich and a Soda,” the album’s first single, is as cheap as the song’s embarrassing title. Although the thirteen-track collection intends to turn a new leaf on Tamia’s dwindling success, she has to be extra careful in choosing better singles and avoiding the misfortunes of weak album filler. And she’s got to do a better job in pushing out powerful, believable performances, particularly when presented with content that’s poorly imagined. It’s a lesson she hasn’t quite learned yet.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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