Tamar steps into the spotlight with a stellar breakout album
The odds were against Tamar Braxton when she released her solo debut album Tamar 13 years ago. The year was 2000 and her sister Toni had dropped The Heat a month after Tamar’s LP (how’s that for sibling rivalry?), armed with the colossal hit single “He Wasn’t Man Enough.” Prior to that, Tamar was an accessory in Toni’s empire, having been a part of The Braxtons singing troupe only to lose out when Toni was hand-picked to be the Beyoncé and forge a stunning solo career of her own. It happens. But when Toni circled back to enlist her sisters for the WE reality TV show Braxton Family Values, we truly got to witness Tamar in her “natural” element. Now, as she releases her second solo album Love And War, that beautiful Braxton voice and fiery personality pour into a semi-cohesive work, giving Tamar the podium to strut her stuff again… for the very first time.
Given the album’s sequencing, Love and War could’ve been retitled “War and Love,” considering how the first half of the work is chaos and settles into love by the end. The project opens with with “The One,” a slick interpolation of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” coupled with its sampler Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” Braxton rides the beat with precision as she presses her breathy vocals against the sonic backdrop to pledge her allegiance to her man. “Tip Toe” follows and recalls Queen Bey, with just enough ratchet to reveal Tamar’s DNA on the cut, as she slides out of the club with a potential suitor: “If anybody see you then our secret gon’ be out,” she coos.
Things simmer down in time for “Stay and Fight,” a piano-infused melody about make-ups to break-ups, followed by the title track, a beautiful ballad with dramatic production that conceptually nods to Pat Benetar’s “Love Is a Battlefield.” The party begins as Tamar applies a whispery tone on the bouncy “One On One Fun” and teases over “Hot Sugar,” as Tamar offers: “Give your man what he dreamin’ about.” The mood shifts back to emo on “Pieces” and “Where It Hurts,” before closing with the grateful, smoothly poignant “Thank You Lord.”
Love And War is at times all over the place, but that’s perfectly fine. The project is beautifully crazy—exactly what we’ve come to know and love from Tamar Braxton. It took a dose of reality TV to bring us to Tamar’s musical reality. Now everyone is tuned in. —Kathy Iandoli