Album Review: Brandy
After 2004's fantastic (but underperforming) 'Afrodisiac' - in which Brandy collaborated with a pre-omnipresent Timbaland and Kanye West to deliver a lush, inventive neo-soul set - she's now returned to previous collaborator, Rodney 'Darkchild' Jenkins, with the release of 'Human'.
Jerkins has an impeccable track record when it comes to hit singles (including Brandy's own 'What About Us?' and 'The Boy Is Mine'), but has never been able to sustain an entire album's worth of songs.
Unfortunately, that's the case here together, he and Brandy play it safe with an entirely mid-tempo set that too often passes by in an easy-listening mush. 'Piano Man' is the album's most successful song, largely because Jerkins shamelessly apes Timbaland nicking the jittery synths from Justin Timberlake's, 'My Love'.
First single 'Right Here (Departed)' is another highlight, a pounding, inspirational pop song with a singalong chorus, while current single, 'Long Distance', is the album's safest moment - a bombastic piano ballad worthy of Whitney Houston. From thereon in, its one lumpen R&B ballad after another, culminating in album closer, 'Fall', co-written by Natasha Bedingfield.
Be sure not to skip the spoken-word intro, in which Brandy gives a definition of the album's title that's not quite worthy of a place in Webster's: "What I feel being a human being is, is just having the freedom to be yourself. Not caring what other people think. Just havin' that freedom to be you. And not bein' afraid. Cos if you're not yourself, then who are you?" she explains. Deep.
'Human' is out now on Sony