Pulse
by Toni Braxton, pop/R&B (2010)
Atlantic, $7.99, ASIN B002VZC9I8


When it comes to Toni Braxton, her personal troubles eclipsed her music in the last few years, so it is perhaps to be expected that Pulse is all about her being this stronger and more empowered woman who is going to throw out all the rubbish from her life and embrace more positivity.

Hence the proliferation of inspiring anthems for divorcees and heartbroken women. Wardrobe is all about Ms Braxton coming out with a new philosophy and positive outlook in life, having ditched everything from her literal and figurative closet. So Yesterday sees her giving the middle finger to the no-good lowlife who cheated her only to come crawling back to her. Begone - she is no longer that old and insecure woman, she's now Toni Braxton, Empowered Woman to the Core.

Of course, she's still a loving being, so she's happy - if slightly tentative - to open her heart to love again. Melt is an ode to a new guy who gives her the chills. Sometimes, still haunted by betrayals in the past, she lashes out to this beau, hence her apology in Stay, where she asks him to give her a chance.

There are a few uptempo tracks that feel so awkward and out of place, but I guess they are there to create some change in mood. They are not necessary, though, as the strongest moments in this collection are the mellow ballads and mid-tempo feel-good tunes. Here, the melody and the lyrics fit perfectly to create what could easily be a story book with a happy ending, for that catharsis specially designed for that woman determined to keep her head up high despite the hard knocks thrown her way.

True, there is nothing here that doesn't feel like familiar fare from any random R&B diva, but Ms Braxton's sultry contralto is still in top form. Pulse isn't an earthshaking record by any means, but it tells a pretty story of a woman who's having a good time getting her groove back.

Rating: 81


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