Toni Braxton and Babyface give tender touch to the pains of divorce

On the record, “I Wish” Toni Braxton, in a deeply heartbroken state, croons “I wish, I wish, I wish she’d break your heart like you did me/I hope you’re unhappy/I hope, I hope, I hope she gives you a disease/so that you will see/Not enough to make you die /But only to make you cry, like you did me.”

The lyrics may seem harsh, but Braxton’s soft chilling vocals truthfully showcase the painful feelings that divorcees, including herself, may have experienced not to mention the thoughts they may harbor after ending a marital relationship.

Braxton’s longtime music partner and mentor Babyface has also gone through the rings of divorce,(Babyface and his ex-wife Tracey Edmonds divorced in 2005) and now the two are putting their own spin on a topic that has been sung about many times before, but this time both parties are telling their side of the story on the same record.

On their new album Love, Marriage, and Divorcethe artists put the rocky parts of a relationship into perspective and speak more on how issues like infidelity and money can seriously break two people apart. Babyface and Braxton have been in the music game for over 20 years and have worked together to create some of Braxton’s greatest songs like “Breathe Again and “Another Sad Love Song” both R&B classics.

It’s been a while since the two have released albums. Babyface’s last solo record was in 2007. After a number of failed solo projects, as well as dealing with illness, Braxton was on the brink of retirement until Babyface, who helped launch her career in the early 90s, talked her into making music again. And now the R&B icons have reunited and are bringing good contemporary R&B back to the forefront of the music scene.

There is a real sense of authenticity mirrored throughout the project and it is mainly due to the maturity of the artists, who don’t paint relationships out to be simply love or hate, but meeting somewhere in between.

Although, at times, it’s hard to tell where the love is on the album. On their dramatic first single, “Hurt You” both singers apologize for cheating and come to the realization that they both crossed the line.

And on the mellow tune “Roller Coaster” they can’t decide whether they want to stay together or break up.

But, the fire is turned up a bit on the sexually tense record “Sweat” where making love is the only alternative to fighting. And on “Reunited,” a somewhat Peaches and Herb vibe is nostalgically created as the two come to a mutual agreement to work things out.

In the end, we can only hope that reconciliation is the final step, but on the final track “The D Word” we find that’s not the case, even though the verses suggest that the relationship is never really over as Babyface sings “Although we’re apart/You’re still in my heart forever and ever.”

We have Babyface to thank for bringing the talented Toni Braxton out of retirement and this record further proves that these two music giants don’t ever need to stay out of the limelight.

4 out of 5 stars

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