After her last album Human which I absolutely loved contrary to the critics reviews or low album sales, I couldn’t wait for another Brandy release. A long four years later, Brandy Norwood, award-winning R&B singer-songwriter and actress has released her sixth studio album Two Eleven. The name Two Eleven stems from Brandy’s date of birth which also happens to be the same day her idol and friend Whitney Houston passed away. The album was released on October 16th under the label Chameleon Entertainment, a sub part of RCA Records. Brandy who is well known for her 1998 monster hit “The Boy is Mine” featuring Monica has managed to stay relevant enough on the music scene during her break – from releasing teaser singles to shooting a reality TV show with her brother and fellow artist Ray-J – but we’re glad Brandy has returned to creating great R&B music!
Kicking off the Two Eleven review is the second lead single off the album titled “Wildest Dreams”. If you’re an avid listener of Brandy’s music, you can hear the classic Brandy sound from the 90’s lingering on this track. The slow tempo tune produced by The Bizness and penned by notable songwriter Sean Garrett was definitely a strong way to start the album. “Wildest Dreams” is filled with retro R&B sounds; a basic drum sequence and piano chords backing Brandy, as she narrates never imagining someone could love her the way she’s being loved now. Judging by the sincerity in her delivery, I believe the rumours saying that her current boyfriend Ryan Press inspired this single.
Before I got the full album, “Scared of Beautiful” was the first track I heard off of Two Eleven. Over 40 plays so far and can I say it still remains one of my favourites. Written by Frank Ocean who also worked with Brandy on her Human (2008) album, this ‘textbook Brandy’ tune is quite the stand-out track. Brandy plays with her vocals ranging from a husky tone to hitting the mid-ranged notes the right way on the guitar driven single. The lines on this – although mediocre – I think convey the message aptly of going through moments of insecurity, but finally overcoming it. Frank Ocean’s version produced by Midi Mafia varies slightly from Brandy’s, but listen to both versions below.
Frank Ocean – “Scared of Beautiful” (Demo):
Brandy – “Scared of Beautiful”:
If I had to pick one song that was perfectly written, performed and produced from this album, it would be “Wish Your Love Away” so I saved it for last. Brandy is well known for her slow love ballads so for all those going through heartbreak, this one should definitely make your “love sucks” playlist. That aside, the R&B track penned by Mario Winans infuses a blend of snaps with stringed and percussion instruments to produce a flawless laid back instrumental. The lyrics somewhat insensitive “ff I had one wish I would wish your love away“, resound that Brandy is done playing games and ready to move on.
Two Eleven is one of those albums that remind you why you love music. I anticipated the album to be half singing and half rapping ever since the introduction of Brandy’s alter ego Bran’Nu on Timbaland’s Shock Value II compilation and frankly, I’m relieved Brandy stepped back from rapping to return to what she does best. Other strong favourites from the album are “Paint This House”, “No such Thing as Too Late”, “Hardly Breathing”, “Do” “You Know What You Have” and the Chris Brown written track “Slower”. I recommend the deluxe version of this album as all the tracks can be listened from start to finish and repeated without skipping a track!
Purchaase: Two Eleven – Brandy (iTunes)