Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Toni Braxton [extended]

  • Toni Braxton [LaFace, 1993] Neither
  • Secrets [LaFace, 1996] A-
  • More Than a Woman [Arista, 2002] **
  • Pulse [Atlantic, 2010] Dud
  • Love, Marriage & Divorce [Motown, 2014] A-

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Toni Braxton [LaFace, 1993] Neither

Secrets [LaFace, 1996]
Front-loaded with five pieces of sexy rocket fuel, including a miraculous Diane Warren ballad you'll want to hear again--the miracle being that it's by Diane Warren and you want to hear it again. Soon the air whooshes out except for the Waiting To Exhale hit and "Love Me Some Him" with its overdubbed yes, but by then her pop presence is established. The apprentice diva of the debut was modest, composed, virtually anonymous. I'll take the right It Girl anytime--especially one who insists on getting her props. A-

More Than a Woman [Arista, 2002]
hell yeah--also a self-made sex object ("Lies, Lies, Lies," "Let Me Show You the Way [Out]") **

Pulse [Atlantic, 2010] Dud

Toni Braxton & Babyface: Love, Marriage & Divorce [Motown, 2014]
Through one number-one album, two number-two albums, one Vegas run, two Disney-on-Broadway runs, one season of Dancing With the Stars, two bankruptcies, and, absolutely, one divorce, Braxton has been as content-free as a soul diva can be. No wonder Kenny Edmunds grabbed her early on--she was platinum putty in his hands. But recall that Edmunds hasn't been Mr. Magic himself for a while, and assume Braxton would try anything. Bingo. Pretend they're writing/singing from experience. That's their line, and since each is but once-divorced, it has a patina. Weathered now, their mellow voices retain some lustre, and there's narrative arc and emotional texture to the well-doctored material--hurting the one you don't want to hurt, worrying about how she's doing, makeup sex, post-split attraction. Yet amid these consistent songs, the single sole-composer credit stands out, and it's Braxton's: "I Wish," about just how bad she hopes the other woman treats him. Inspirational Verse: "I hope she gives you a disease/So that you will see/But not enough to make you die/But only make you cry/Like you did me." A-