1996, Music

Secrets (1996) by Toni Braxton

I swear I’d listened to at least one other Toni Braxton album before but I have no reviews so I must have given it up before I got to three listens. So I guess this is my first proper listen to a Toni Braxton album.

The material here is pretty catchy. I’d say it’s catchier than your average mid ’90s R&B album, at least that what I’m aware of. I guess Babyface was already pretty well established at this point, but he definitely seems to know what he’s doing in terms of melody. But I do feel like a few songs sound traditional enough to feel like they could have been sung by Whitney in the ’80s. I don’t mean that as a compliment.

The lyrics are typical R&B and mostly forgettable. As they usually are.

The arrangements are straight up, middle of the road ’90s R&B. They’re free of the production cliches of the previous decade but they’re very much full of the production cliches of ’90s R&B. I don’t really know when one set changed to the other, so maybe Braxton was helping to establish them. But, for me, there’s too much going on. And it’s all too clean and safe. And it really sounds like ’90s R&B.

Braxton is, of course, the real star here and the reason to listen to the album. She has a really great voice and a pretty impressive range. (As everyone knows, she can get really deep compared to a lot of other women.) I knew that already, but it’s on full display throughout the album. And she sings with passion even when the music around her is pretty bloodless.

But this is pretty middle of the road ’90s R&B and, as someone who is not a fan of genre, it’s hard to care. It’s fine, I guess.


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