Words: Raeven Bostic
If you’re a fan of R&B, then you know Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and Toni Braxton are musical legends that spawned R&B classics at the height of their careers in the ’90s. Babyface, a triple threat, producing, writing and singing his own creations like ‘Whip Appeal‘” and “Nobody Knows It But Me” is credited for kick starting the careers of TLC, Usher, and Toni Braxton. Babyface went on to pen several hits for Braxton like “Another Sad Love Song,” “I Love Me Some Him,“ and her highly successful song yet, “Unbreak My Heart.” The two have now joined forces on their new album, Love, Marriage & Divorce, an honest representation of the ups and downs in a relationship.
The R&B masterpiece opens up with “Roller Coaster,” melodic blend about the emotional ride of a relationship. Toni and Babyface’s vocals stand apart on their own, but when they mesh together on the chorus, the result is utter perfection. “What should we do when love is like a roller coaster/When love takes over your emotions/Spends you round’ and round,” the two sing over the Babyface produced beat. The two seem to have made-up on follow up song “Sweat.” The funky yet sultry song brings the sex appeal to the album with lyrics like: “If you really fight, we can take it to the bed tonight/If you really wanna scream, I can make you scream tonight/I’ll make you forget you were ever mad.”
The lead single to the album “Hurt You” has quickly become a fan favorite. A relatable song about apologizing to your significant other and admitting your wrongs is one that is sure to hit home for everyone. Over a simple beat Babyface, accompanied by a piano, croons the complaints he has to his lover as Toni explains the reasons for her actions.
Babyface’s falsetto notes blended with Toni’s milky tenor notes creates the perfect blend on “Where Did We Go Wrong?” Babyface hits Toni singing, “From the very start, I was so into you/Knew from the beginning, I was so-so feeling you/But you found I cheated, played around on you/But you did the same, didn’t you? Didn’t you?” As Toni retorts: “Gotta tell you baby, gotta let you know the deal/You drew first but baby, but if we’re gonna keep it real/When you cheated/How you hurt me so/You broke my heart/Didn’t you?’ Each take turns questioning what went wrong in the relationship, blaming themselves for their ultimate demise.
Babyface’s solo comes in the form of “I Hope That You’re Okay,” a sincere song to his ex-lover explaining how he’s leaving but wants to make sure that she’s ok. The song is sure to remind you of his ’90s hit, “Nobody Knows It But Me” with his creamy vocals. Toni takes a similar route with the gut wrenching song “I Wish.” Hurt and tired from heartbreak, singing with just a piano, the singer sings: “I wish she’d break your heart, like you did me/I hope you’re unhappy.”
The two plead to each other to take their relationship back to the way it was before the mayhem on “Take It Back.” Sounding like a more grown up version of Ariana Grande‘s “Honeymoon Avenue“ the two sing over a soft beat while reminicing about their painful past and promising future. The uptempo “Reunited” is the peak of the album, mirroring a couple that has been reunited after being apart for so long. Changing gears, Toni speaks her truth on “I’d Rather Be Broke.” Fed up with her lovers antics, the singer lets him know that she’d ‘rather be broke, than be with him.’ Gliding over the piano infused beat, her wispy vocals are top notch on this unique ballad, a factor that quickly made this track a fan favorite.
The second to last song, “Heart Attack” is the first song with a danceable beat which is a refreshing sound on the ballad heavy album. Creating the scene of seeing a person you love with someone else and realizing what you had after it’s gone, the two flirtatiously play over the bass heavy beat. “You know you want me back/You out here bout’ to have a heart attack. You know you want it back/That’s why you bout’ to have a heart attack.”
The album finishes with “The D Word,” a ballad about love and divorce. “All though we’re apart, you still own my heart,” Babyface sings over the beat. Vocally, Toni takes it back to her “Unbreak My Heart ” days with her low growl but it blends perfectly as expected with Babyface soft voice.
Love, Marriage and Divorce is the perfect soundtrack to anyone’s love life. The album brings back pure and authentic R&B that was at the forefront of the music world in the ’80s and ’90s. Sure to be on the ‘Best of 2014 R&B’ list, this album is a must have.
The tracklist to the album is below:
1. Roller Coaster
3. Hurt You
4. Where Did We Go Wrong?
5. I Hope That You’re Okay
6. I Wish
7. Take It Back
9. I’d Rather Be Broke
10. Heart Attack
11. The D Word