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R&B - To be released February 22, 2019 | Ensoul Records

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R&B - Released February 20, 2019 | Inertial Recordings

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R&B - Released February 1, 2019 | Ensoul Records

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R&B - Released February 1, 2019 | Ensoul Records

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R&B - Released March 23, 2018 | Def Jam Recordings

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Is this Toni Braxton's revenge? At 50 years of age, the 1990s R&B star (with more than 25 million sales of her first two albums, the self-titled Toni Braxton in 1993 and Secrets in 1996) is bringing back fond memories for aficionados of sugary, languorous groove, with a rather sober album, lovingly made, and which never falls into either over-exuberance or self-parody. Above all, this is a work for its times (2018) and it has taken a few steps away from the sounds of the 1990s. Braxton is now a mature woman, facing both her present and her past head-on. Four years after Love, Marriage & Divorce, a duo with Babyface, Sex & Cigarettes marks a return to serious business. For her first album since 2010's Pulse, she has brought even more to the table than usual. "“I feel like I’m older, I wanna say what I feel. I don’t wanna be censored.” The message is loud and clear (just take a look at the lyrics on adultery) and it shows that Toni Braxton is far from finished… © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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R&B - Released March 23, 2018 | Def Jam Recordings

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As her 1993 blockbuster debut approached its 25th anniversary, Toni Braxton proceeded to collect accolades while moving forward. Her duets album with Babyface was designated Best R&B Album in 2015 by the Recording Academy -- making her a Grammy winner in three decades -- and the connection with her foundational audience was reaffirmed in 2017 with a Soul Train Legend Award. Her every-few-years release schedule was maintained with this short album, in which she responds to a habitually philandering lover with her distinctive mix of fire and finesse. This has more of the former element than any previous Braxton release. Although the title track is placed second in the sequence, it's really the first scene, or at least the album's basis, an emotionally raw if composed confrontation supported by piano and strings. "I guess you're too cold or too bold to give a fuck," she remarks with a sting. "FOH," one of two Babyface collaborations, is far more explicit, with jealousy and contempt at a boiling point. Only "Missin'," the closing song on the standard edition, deviates from the rough story line, and that's for its lack of sourness; it's built on a light galloping rhythm yet is all about longing, merely one form of emotional engulfment displayed by the singer. There's also a hint of reflective sweetness to "Long as I Live," but the ache is incurable, and the Colbie Caillat collaboration "My Heart" glistens but is otherwise drained. Elsewhere, Braxton alternates between regret and admitting romantic dependency. The productions, typically polished for a Braxton album, are subtly diverse, with "Deadwood" easily adaptable to contemporary country, "Sorry" rooted in classic Southern soul, and "Missin'" verging on tropical pop. Non-standard edition bonus track "Forgiven," a ballad of closure, would make much more sense as this album's finale than it does in its original state, as the backdrop for the credits sequence of Roland Joffé's The Forgiven. ~ Andy Kellman

R&B - Released February 2, 2018 | Ensoul Records

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R&B - Released June 23, 2017 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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R&B - Released November 4, 2016 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B - Released November 4, 2016 | Columbia - Legacy

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The Spellbinders' sole LP, in the manner of many albums of the day, combined previously released 45s (both sides of their first three singles, from 1965 and 1966) with five additional tracks. It made for a reasonably strong mid-'60s soul album, not so much due to the group's vocal talents (which were certainly competent) as the robust production of Van McCoy, who also wrote four of the songs. One of those McCoy compositions was "For You," the group's only hit of sorts (reaching the R&B Top 30 in 1965). Take away the production, however, and the material isn't nearly as distinctive, as much of it's similar but inferior to bigger acts like the Temptations, the Impressions, and the Drifters (the resemblance to the last of those groups really coming to the forefront on "I Need Your Love"). Still, it's an enjoyable listen, and if it's not among the most memorable of obscure '60s pop-soul LPs, it's an above-average one for its category. All eleven of the tracks are included on the 2007 CD compilation Chain Reaction, which also adds historical liner notes and both sides of their two post-LP singles from 1966 and 1967. ~ Richie Unterberger
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R&B - Released December 4, 2015 | Def Jam Recordings

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R&B - Released August 17, 2015 | RCA Records Label

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R&B - Released June 13, 2000 | Reprise

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R&B in the magazine
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