I love Tamar Braxton because she’s one of the few R&B artists who’s still true to that traditional sound, even when radio and trends show that it’s a bit outdated. So, no, I didn’t forget that her album came out a few weeks ago, but I needed the right amount of time to savour what she calls “her final album.”
Bluebird of Happiness is Tamar’s first album as an independent artist and it’s a rather brief record, with its 11 tracks. In the past year she’s had a couple of ups and downs, from hers and Vince’s health issues to her much discussed firing from The Real as a host and the controversy that ensued.
The album is, however, more on the happy side of things as reflected in its title: Tamar is no longer singing about the struggle of romantic relationships, but she’s happy and confident in what she is and what she has. This is a positive record.
Right from the first track “My Forever,” Tamar expresses gratitude for the love that’s in her life “a dream come true.” The album continues then with three uptempo numbers that represent the side of hers that is not always represented by the singles and promotion she receives.
“Wanna Love You Boy,” which samples the almost homonym Robin Thicke track, is the closest we’re getting to a female response to Bruno Mars and “That’s What I Like” this year, with this mid-2000s sound.
“Run Run” and “Hol’ Up” are silly fun tracks that would probably work better on other albums, but are a joy to hear coming from someone as vocally talented as Tamar.
“The Makings of You” is a midtempo that samples Gladys Knight’s cover of the Curtis Mayfield track of the same name and it’s one of the most beautiful R&B tracks she’s ever done, even if the sample has been overused at this point.
“Pick Me Up” and its Evelyn “Champagne” King sample take us back to 2013 and “The One,” with the same fun and carefree vibe. Hopefully it will get some shine.
The first single, “My Man,” is a passionate ballad inspired by Tamar’s parents and their divorce. Written from the perspective of her mother Evelyn and what she felt when she found out about her husband cheating, it was an emotional and cathartic moment also for Tamar, the youngest of the Braxton children.
The three piano ballads showcase Tamar’s skills as a vocalist and an emotional songwriter. “Blind,” the current single is a Gospel-y number driven by a sparse production, harmonies and lyrics inspired by Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind.” (I did feel the influence of Mariah Carey’s Elusive Chanteuse album as well).
“Empty Boxes” closes the album with Tamar realising that she’s no longer going to let her life be defined by expectations. It’s a moment of self-consciousness about cherishing what’s there without hoping for something that’s probably never coming.
Is it the last one?
This album doesn’t really break new ground artistically, but it is a worthy addition to an already strong catalog and one that will make the Tamartians both happy and sad if what Tamar’s saying will indeed turn out to be true. I’m confident this is not the last we’ll hear from her though. Pretty please!
Listen to Bluebird of Happiness below: