Review: Tamar Braxton Tears Pages From Her Book Of Love For The ‘Calling All Lovers’ LP
You can’t know Tamar Braxton without knowing her fire, her boldness and most importantly, her soul. We’ve all had a taste of it from her co-hosting duties on the nationally syndicated talk show, The Real, and publicized clapbacks at her numerous Hollywood counterparts. But before breaking into the talk show biz, the Maryland-bred R&B vixen planted her roots in stardom beside the critically-acclaimed Queen of R&B and her big sister, Toni Braxton. After lifting four singles from the family group that included a trio of the Braxton sisters, Tamar spun the spotlight to her solo walk in the industry. Humble beginnings gave the “Prettiest Girl” songstress a dauntless spirit, especially after being dropped from DreamWorks Records after the lack of support on her 2000 self-titled debut, Tamar.
Let her Universal and Casablanca Records signage tell it, though. The minor setback only underscored her invigorating comeback. Love and War, Tamar’s critically-acclaimed studio re-introduction, fittingly rose to No. 2 on Billboard charts. The lead single, also titled “Love and War,” reinvigorated her vocal game and presence in the R&B circle. Drawing assists from industry mates such as trap lord, Future, Tamar has only continued to mount her way through every corner of her solo adventure.
This time around, Ms. Hot Sugar is cracking open her love diary as she narrates a 16-track LP imbued with all things passion. She meticulously strings the highs, lows and every in-between of love, sex and relationships through the project’s sequence Merging piano-laced ballads, SWV-sampled nostalgia and impassioned tales, Calling All Lovers is the bae-worthy opus you’ve been craving. Here, VIBE rolls through each love note, track-by-track.—Diamond Hillyer
“Angels and Demons”: Summoning all the lovers, the intro ballad brings soul and reggae into perfect harmony. Tamar pleas for the protection from hellish love fiends threatening to tear apart her palace of passion. “Is it war/ ‘Cause our love has angels and demons/ (Baby tried to steal my love)/ Please don’t runway with my love/(Angels, please protect my love),” she sings.
“Catfish”: Flexin’ for the ‘Gram and other Internet fraud scandals sparked MTV’s docu-based series, Catfish, and apparently, the inspiration for Tamar’s warning to her lover’s “brand new” behavior. Tamar taps into SWV’s 90s hit, “Right Here/Human Nature” to assist her message where she reminds him that their relationship is a no flex zone. “How you flip and then change on me/ You gon’ make me go crazy/ Acting like you worrying about me/ Like I’m trying to work it out/ The last thing I’m thinking ’bout/ You and your leased Benzie can both be out.” Zing dot com.
“Simple Things”: Tamar breathes a little affection back into the LP with this ode to her devout lover, serving as a reminder that love is about the little things in life. In Alicia Keys “If I Ain’t Got You” fashion, she harmonizes her adamant appreciation for her man just as he is, sans jewelry, clothes, and other fancy things.
“Broken Record”: At some point in every relationship, we’ve all found ourselves asking that seemingly hopeless, introspective question: “Where do I go from here?” Tamar makes it so that we know we aren’t alone as she somberly yet smoothly vocalizes a recollection of her thoughts on heartbreak. Stuck between a rock of uncertainty and a hard place of heavy heartedness, she reveals a deep reflection on her current emotional state in the most relatable way possible.
“Never”: Here, well-assisted backup vocals perfectly top off Tamar’s farewell to an unappreciative lover. While he’s being careless and ungrateful, she makes sure he’ll remember every element of her affection he took for granted.
“Circle”: Tamar depicts her last straw from a toxic relationship that has her trapped in a cycle of heartbreak. “You drug my heart through the ground/ Left it all battered and bruised/ I’m done fighting this battle with you/ I can’t keep going in circles/ Circles, going in circles/ Round and round and round with you.”
“If I Don’t Have You”: The sprightly instrumentals capture and captivate the attention this single has garnered since its release. Matched with diva-driven cinematic visuals, Tamar’s mother and reality television diva Nene Leakes dropped in for the music video as well. “If I Don’t Have You” bleeds unrequited infatuation for a lover that she feels left her in a relationship all by herself.
“Raise The Bar”: This DJ Camper production is Tamar’s sultry commemoration to the lover that restored her hope for love. Steamy and undoubtedly sexy, this bedroom anthem is the perfect quality time assist for the chilly fall months approaching.
“I Love You”: This two-minute ballad is Tamar’s most direct message yet. Self-explanatory, mid-tempo and blissful in its approach, Tamar slides into your speakers with an unveiled and honest show of affection for her A1.
“Making Love”: Serving classic R&B feels, Tamar leaves little to the imagination with her sensual verses that invite her lover to a one-on-one between the sheets. This track does Tamar’s soul tonality justice as her soft, light vocals refine the steamy passion, further stimulating its message.
“Love It”: Tamar drops a seductive charmer that reminds her lover of every little thing he adores about her, and she just knows he “loves it.” The scattering dips and drops in the instrumentals also add an ample dose of playfulness to the theme.
“Must Be Good To You”: Tamar is nothing short of bold, self-empowering, fun and confident for this track, rightfully reflecting what we see of her in everyday discourse. “Must Be Good To You” is the perfect “Feelin’ Myself” companion for life’s good days.
“Free Fallin’”: Knocking down her own walls, Tamar is ready for love in this melody that exposes every side of her vulnerability. Her explosive, intense vocals showcases her expansive sonic range and determination to reclaim the true meaning of love.
“King”: Reminiscent of Christina Milian’s “Us Against the World,” this soft piano-guided ballad uplifts her sovereign knight, who is deserving of all her loyalty and faith.
“S.O.N.”: We hope you didn’t let the title fool you. This acronym puts a sexy spin on the truce she calls between her and her lover as she advocates “sex over nonsense.”
“Coming Home”: Closing out the album, this track proves that not every ending is a happy one. The track could almost serve as Tamia’s modern-day “There’s A Stranger In My House” as mild, calm instrumentals perfectly contrast with Tamar’s ardent vocals.