Tamar Braxton wears many titles including reality star, wife and new mother, and now she’s showing the world her strengths as a musician.
On September 3, nearly nine months after the release of the album’s lead single, the title track “Love and War,” Tamar unleashes her sophomore album.
Described as the “soundtrack to her relationship” with husband-manager Vincent Herbert, Love and War follows the ups and downs of marriage while trying to find a balance between work and love.
“Everybody experiences love but sometimes it feels like war,” Tamar explained to Robin Roberts during a recent appearance on “Good Morning America.”
“Love and War” opens with the Notorious B.I.G.- sampled “The One,” a delectable mid-tempo ode that fits right in with 90s R&B. “I don’t need no one, baby/ Without you I’m incomplete/ My love is just like the bar/ Put it all on me,” she sings on the chorus. The lyrics are flirty while her voice and the arrangement provide a mature interpretation of the words.
The sophomore selection is a sassy club-ready anthem on which Tamar warns her lover to “tip toe” — or keep their love on the low. The beat is driven by a rhythmic clap, injecting a bit of urban flavor into the album. Overall, it is an okay song and maybe a little skip-worthy.
Stay and Fight
Next, we fall into “Stay in Fight,” on which Tamar declares that she wants to pick up the pieces of a broken relationship and attempt to reassemble whatever is left of it. “I wanna stay and fight for you/ Fight ’til my heart is black and blue,” she chimes. “I wanna stay and fight for us/ Fight like hell before I give up.” This ballad has a very slow pace but the rousing background ad-libs alone are enough to make you listen through the entire song at least once.
Love and War
Released as the lead single, the album’s title track is simply timeless perfection. It is brilliantly written, sang with passion, and is a great representation of the album as a whole. The title practically sums up everything the project is about. “Love and War” was released to general acclaim amongst critics and fans alike, and ultimately peaked at No. 8 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
All the Way Home
We continue along Tamar’s journey with another emotional selection, “All the Way Home.” Thus far, this ballad is one of the stronger songs on the album, altogether. The cut shares a similar message with “Stay and Fight,” but is written with more substance and paints a detailed image of the situation in context. She sings, “I’m just speeding down the road/ I’m head out of control/ ‘Cause I’m thinking ’bout you all the way home.” “All the Way Home” also sounds like a song from the 90s R&B or in the early 00s. Tamar’s vocals are strong and clear, and the ad-libs are explosive.
One on One Fun
We take a break from ballads with the mid-tempo “One on One Fun.” In short, this song is basically an unpolished disaster. It’s very hard to hear what Tamar is singing, the background vocals seem sporadic and the chorus is annoyingly repetitive. This song would be more suitable for lazy singers like Rihanna or Selena Gomez.
She Did That
Tamar took one of her trademark expressions, “she did that,” and turned it into an up-tempo jam. I am noticing that up-tempos are not Tamar’s strongest suit. The song was probably fun to create in the studio, and that is where it should have been left. Albeit catchy, the lyrics are childish and don’t fit in with the album’s theme, sonically. Thankfully, it’s only one minute long.
Prior to the album’s release, “Hot Sugar” was one of the songs I was most excited to hear in full. This track is easily the best out of the up-tempos. Lyrically, it is a bit shallow but it is still a fun, solid song. The sound is flirty and radio-friendly. Tamar recently shot the music video for this song and I think that it will be a great opportunity to show off a little sexiness.
The pace slows back down with “Pieces.” She belts, “I tried a thousand times/ Told my heart a thousand lies/ You won’t me let me say goodbye/ You don’t wanna see me do it.” It’s a pretty song, and fan favorite. It could be a hit.
Where It Hurts
“Where It Hurts” tells an interesting story and is the first time on “Love and War” when Tamar puts her own feelings aside and shows concern for her lover. “I can kiss away the pain,” Tamar tenderly reassures. The modernized production is also enjoyable.
“Prettiest Girl” describes how every girl wishes to be seen in the eyes of their better half. From our observations of Tamar’s relationship with her husband Vincent, the lyrics are believable and definitely relatable. The sound is fresh, likely resonating more with younger fans.
Sound of Love
Tamar taps into her intimacy with this soft, endearing tune. “You make me feel like it’s no one in the world/ It’s just us tonight,” she croons. “Tonight, just hold my body and don’t ever let go/ Just kiss the places that keeps me wanting more.” “Sound of Love” is very grown-up and sexy.
“White Candle” is one of my favorite songs on”Love and War.” Tamar ventures away from formulaic R&B with an experimental acoustic sound, which feels kind of refreshing. The lyrics are profound yet straightforward, while her vocal performance heighten the passion.
Thank You Lord
The album concludes on a personal note as Tamar pours our her heart with this touching ballad. The song is quite fitting for a closer and also serves as a testament for overcoming the struggles she’s faced in trying to juggle her personal life with a revitalized career.
Overall, I think that the album is believable, relatable, and shows off a softer side of Tamar that she’s been hiding for a while. Despite her larger-than-life personality, “Love and War” has helped me realize that she is just a regular person. I’m excited to see where her career goes from here.
Refill: “White Candle,” “Love and War,” “Pieces”
Refund: “One on One Fun”
RATING: 3.5 out of 5