Album Review: Calling All Lovers [3/5 stars]

"Calling All Lovers" by Tamar Braxton is a follow up to her last album, "Love and War". This 16 track album pulls from her personal diary as she goes through the highs and lows of love, sex, and relationships. It is R&B and doesn't try to be anything else and focuses on her vocals over all else. The growth between albums can be heard.

"Angels and Demons" calls all lovers to enjoy the album with this tropical reggae soul ballad. This is a perfect statement to start the album. "Catfish" dives straight into the story of with a 90's R&B influence. The track tells the story of a lover warning her lover of their "brand new" behavior - calling them out for being a catfish of sorts. Maybe this is foreshadowing? Does this album tell a linear story of a relationship? This is the type of side eye we expect from Braxton. She is able to put her stamp on a song that shows off her personality and vocals too. 

The middle section of the album are standard R&B tracks. "Simple Things" is a reminder that love is about the little things. This song is affectionate in nature and the background vocals bring a sultry feeling to a song with not much going on for it. Does Tamar expect us to believe she truly stands behind the meaning of this song? "Never" is a standout track from this group, despite the basic sentiments expressed in the song. The vocal arrangement shows off Braxton's sweet spot and the sonic arrangement is dreamy as Braxton wishes well for her unappreciative lover with lines like: "You treat me like I'm nothing/ you take me for granted, you're tripping/ walking round here like I owe you something/ always going out my damn way just to keep you happy." The song does sound very one sided and Braxton doesn't acknowledge any wrongdoing of her own. This song is nothing special, but it would have benefited from a featured artist adding the other lovers perspective. In "Circles," she is putting her foot down and telling herself to leave the toxic relationship with generic lines instead of listing off indiscretions. The song is missing details that make the song unique to Braxton, instead of just a song about the topic. "If I Don't Have You" sounds like a continuation of "Never" - but also feels repetitive. 

"Raise the Bar" is a sexy anthem to her lover that gives her hope for love. The way her vocals twist and turn around each word is so steamy, it turns up the sex appeal to 100%. This is a turning point in the album where she goes from kicking love to the curb to accepting new love. 

Braxton inhabits Mariah Carey in "I Love You" with it's mid-tempo approach and a clear statement with no room for interpretation and she continues the story in "Making Love" serving classic sensual R&B that plainly invites her love to have fun in between the sheets. The soft and breathy vocals tell a passionate story that makes listeners snap along with the song. She finishes off the story in "Makin' Love" with lyrics like "I could tell the way you chase it/ nothin' better than, no sweeter than my love" - this song feels like it's teasing her lover when they are apart and can't be in bed, doing naughty things. It's her way of keeping her lover coming back for more. 

The three tracks that I connect to most are the last three of the album. "King" is a piano ballad that sounds like a love letter to her husband. "S.O.N" advocates for sex over nonsense and has Braxton sensually singing lines like "Boy, stop frontin' and let's make this movie/ starring this booty/ I want sex over nonsense". "Coming Home" as a title is appropriately misleading - this time Braxton is unsure what happened. Losing love but still in a relationship with is disorienting but Braxton uses the lower register of her vocals to softly proclaim "You're lying here but it feels like you're gone I'm missing you, come home". 

This is a great progression for Braxton. We love to see artists evolve. This album is a mix of up-tempo, mid-temp, and ballad R&B tracks that calls all lovers to run through the emotions of love, from bad to good love.