It's been just about five years since Toni Braxton released her last album Libra, but since then, the Grammy winner has been busy starring in a Vegas show &, subsequently, getting her name back out there to the general public with a run on Dancing With The Stars. Now, Toni's back to doing what she does best--& is as good as ever--on her sixth studio album Pulse. It may have had a little trouble getting off the ground, but that doesn't mean Pulse isn't a worthy addition to Toni's catalog.
"Yesterday": Thank the heavens above, they didn't include the version with Trey Songz! Aside from the fact that I don't like him, the production on the solo version is much better for the song, which has an epic feel to it & features some great vocals from Toni. A superb track! 5/5
"Make My Heart": Pulse may not have a plethora of uptempos (thankfully), but Toni certainly shows that she knows what she's doing on the ones that do appear. This song is a perfect blend of Toni's best upbeat tracks from the past & the popular dance sound of today. 5/5
"Hands Tied": Of the many, many slow jams that leaked from the Pulse recording sessions prior to the album's release, this was always one of the best. Here, Toni's doing what she does best: showing off those unique vocals gorgeously. 5/5
"Woman": This is another big ballad with heartfelt lyrics & a brilliant execution. One of my favorites. 5/5
"If I Have To Wait": There is a hint of country influence in this one like Toni promised, but don't let that scare you because it still sounds like a signature Toni track. Beautiful once again. 5/5
"Lookin' At Me": The other uptempo--& it's just as good as the first. Thank goodness they didn't use that Sean Paul-assisted version! I guess you could say that I feel like Toni doesn't need help being a genius from anyone. 5/5
"Wardrobe": This midtempo has basically stayed on repeat since it first leaked. There's good & bad to that though because the subtle changes they made to the final version are blatantly obvious to me, but they're really nothing I can't get used to. 5/5
"Hero": Speaking of final versions being different from the leaked ones, they changed this one for the better! They matched the incredible James Fauntleroy-penned lyrics with some new production wonderfully. 5/5
"No Way": It's practically irrelevant, but I actually thought this song was just alright when it first leaked; however, when I heard it in the context of the album, I absolutely fell in love! The soothing, almost throwback feel of the track makes it one that I look forward to hearing with every listen of Pulse. (Listen to that run from 2:42 to 2:46 ... amazing!) 5/5
"Pulse": Strangely enough, the title track is the most underwhelming to me. Maybe it's just because the song's been leaked for centuries. However, the slight changes in the final version--yes--bring it back to life! 5/5
"Why Won't You Love Me": Hands down... well, at the moment anyway... my favorite song on the album. The emotion of Toni's vocals make it all-the-more-clear just how brilliant she is, especially at this sort of thing. The (subtle) added production in the final version only improve on the song's perfection. Oh, & whoever in the heck the guy is singing at the end, he is aammaazziinngg!! (Sidenote: I can't decide if I prefer him getting to sing his entire part alone or taking turns with Toni. What a magnificent dilemma!) Best believe I'll be promptly flipping to the credits for this song in the album booklet when I purchase my copy of Pulse on Tuesday! 5/5
So, as you can see, there are no complaints here! Toni never, ever disappoints & Pulse is no exception. To be nitpicky though, tracks like "Caught (Don't Take Your Hat Off)" (Atlantic, just pay Mo'Nique her feature price! The buzz from having an Oscar winner on the album would be worth it!), "The Wave", "Don't Leave", & "The Break-Up" are definitely album-worthy & it's a shame they're being wasted (although the former pair is being included in the iTunes+Target deluxe edition of the album). I would say that it makes sense since they all have been leaked for some time, but, well, so has everything that did make the album. Then again, for one, if you think about the lyrical content of "The Wave" & then consider Toni's current personal situation... ya. At the end of the day, I wouldn't replace any of the tracks on the album with any other leak anyway. Pulse is a terrific album & Toni Braxton really shines as an example of proof that there is still talent left somewhere in the music industry.
Rating: 5/5 Stars