Songstress and actress Brandy returns to the scene with her seventh studio album, B7, via her own label Brand Nu and eOne Music. I want to point out that I’ve never considered myself a Brandy fan. However, throughout her twenty-four years career, she has made a few songs that I like, so I went into the album with an open mind.
Before releasing the album, the singer debuted the Daniel Caesar duet “Love Again” as a promotional single. A sentimental love song the songs still sounds fresh a year later. Brandy followed that song up with “Baby Mama,” featuring rapper Chance the Rapper, this past May. An ode to single mothers, one would think that the song wouldn’t work due to its trap sounding production, but the singer saves the song with her natural charisma. With two lead singles that I kept on repeat, I was curious to see how Brandy would sound, eight years after her last release.
The singer opens her latest release with “Saving All My Love,” which she co-wrote with Darhyl “DJ” Camper. The song has a modern sound that fans who grew up on the singer will appreciate, as will those fans born post-2000. The beat is simple with a dash of grown & sexy, and autotune free. I also found a lot to like in “Rather Be,” which finds the singer collaborating with songwriter Antonio Dixon with lush production by the late great Lashawn Daniels.
B7 truly shines on tracks six through eight for me, though. Beginning with “Borderline,” Brandy takes us on a musical journey of the facets of love. “Borderline” is a warning to would-be playas and their treatment of women. However, later in the song, Brandy accepts her own flaws and realizes that you can’t let your own loneliness affect what may turn out to be a good relationship. “No Tomorrow” is a summertime groove about just enjoying the moment with your significant other and showcases Brandy’s lower range vocally. Finally, “Say Something” is a bluesy ballad that explains why communication is vital in a relationship.
I must point out that by no means is B7 a happy album. In hindsight, this appears to be musical therapy for the singer. The singer addresses mental illness throughout the album, which many listeners may not catch the first time around. “Lucid Dreams” finds the singer confessing she wanted to die. Simultaneously, the album’s closer “Bye Bipolar” is a haunting piano ballad about how one’s behavior can affect someone who cares about you.
At fifteen songs, B7 is just the right length, but there is a bit of filler. “High Heels” features the singer’s daughter and the return of Brandy’s rap alter-ego, Bran’Nu. The production is a bit mundane and doesn’t really go with the rest of the album. I also wasn’t fond of the production on “Unconditional Oceans.”
Nevertheless, I will give credit where it’s due, and overall, B7 gets my recommendation. By no means is this a classic album. Still, during a time when the entertainment industry faces change, B7 will tide fans over until we return to a sense of normalcy.
Final Grade: B-
Best songs: “Rather Be,” “Borderline,” “No Tomorrow,” “Say something,” and “Love Again.”