Musicality – Berlin, Jennifer Holliday, Broken Bells, Toni Braxton and Babyface

Berlin
Animal
(101 Records)
Sometimes you just need something upbeat, and this new album by Berlin fits the bill nicely. Berlin’s pop techno has a very nice ’90s aspect to it, and fans of the band’s previous work will love this one. It makes me nostalgic because vocalist Terri Nunn’s sound has remained a constant. Though it is their seventh album, she remains true to herself and her style. Her clear vocals mixed with decent hooks and very danceable beats made me like this album fresh off the start. I was in a less-than-pleasant mood when I started listening to it, and it cheered me right up. I was even surprised at how much I love the cover of “Somebody to Love.” It could have easily been horrible, and I’m more than happy that it wasn’t. Definitely check it out. Some of my other favorites were “Don’t Make Me Regret It” and “Secrets.”
Jennifer Holliday
The Song Is You
(Euphonie/Shanachie)
Though I have a few issues with this album, I rather like it with its bluesy, smooth jazz feel. The breathy aspect to Holliday’s vocals on this album did start to bother me after a while, particularly because it sounded that way so often. I definitely prefer the points when her voice has much more clarity. The repetitive nature of the songs didn’t help. I feel as if the talent and quality of sound are there, but this just missed the mark of something that could have been truly memorable from this former Dreamgirl. The songs feel a bit like those in a musical, which shouldn’t be a surprise for fans. Those who enjoy smooth jazz should listen to the song “Love Dance.” It is fantastic. Other favorites are “The Look of Love” and the title track, “The Song Is You (featuring Joe Gransden and the JG Big Band).”
Broken Bells
After the Disco
(Columbia)
To me, this is one of the best alternative bands to come out of mainstream radio in the last five years. Their first album, which was self-titled, was so captivating that it stayed in the CD player of my car for several months. This second one is looking to do the same, though I still think I prefer their first CD. Vocally, Broken Bells have sort of Bee Gees feel, but a bit more serious, especially in the song “Holding on for Life.” Another favorite is the slower “Leave It Alone.” My favorite songs are serious in tone with a catchy hook, similar in style to their first album. A couple of examples are “Control,” “Medicine,” and “No Matter What You’re Told.” This CD is definitely staying in the car.
Toni Braxton and Babyface
Love Marriage & Divorce
(Motown)
This recently released duet album from Toni Braxton and Babyface is not their first rodeo together. In fact, it comes more than 20 years after they recorded the song “Give U My Heart” in 1992 for the Boomerang soundtrack. So it’s really no surprise that they pair well. The music in general is great. My only issue is that every so often, the lyrics had somewhat cheesy dialogue. I can’t lie — not even a minute into the song “I Wish,” I burst out laughing. But these instances were few, and I would still suggest the album to R&B and soul lovers. One of my favorites, “Heart Attack” is a really nice R&B song with a disco-funk edge to it. Don’t ignore that one. Other good ones are “Reunited,” “Sweat,” and “Hurt You.”

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