The Heat
by Toni Braxton, pop/R&B (1999)
BMG/Arista/LaFace, ASIN B00004R7SN

Gosh, has it been four years since Toni Braxton ruled the airwaves with her songs? Well, she's back.

She starts off the whole fanfare with the great tune He Wasn't Man Enough For Me, where she tells the suspicious woman of her ex-boyfriend to get lost. What are you thinking? Did you know I dumped your husband? Did you know I made him leave? Did you know he begged to stay with me? she says, ending with a loud and clear He wasn't man enough for me!

You go, gal. Tell 'em!

Then she takes listeners down a nice, steamy Amazonian forest of a sensual fest called The Heat where she cooes and steams up the whole room with her desire.

She also tells everyone that after her first hit Breathe Again ages ago, hey, I'm Still Breathing. And then Toni decides she wants to be the new Roberta Flack, and Diane Warrens dutifully pens her what seems like the 21st century's Killin' Me Softly With His Song, Spanish Guitar.

I wish that I was in your arms, like that Spanish guitar
And you will play me all night long till dawn
she cooes. Oh my.

The magic of Toni Braxton is that she sings relatively low-key, in the sense that there is little but some guitar, some strings, and maybe drums in most of her tracks. No acrobatic screechings from her, although she tends to overemote here and there (You've Been Wrong). Listening to Braxton is like sitting in a lounge, slow and moody, listening to songs of forlorn hope and heartbreak. Perfect for late night blues.

Rating: 80

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