BACK TO HER ROOTS Brandy returns to the success of her well-known R&B Style.
BACK TO HER ROOTS Brandy returns to the success of her well-known R&B Style.

For many artists whose stardom began during their childhood, fans worry that their sound and image will change so drastically that they will never again create music like that which first made them popular. Teen legend Brandy Norwood, however, has released five records over 15 years that have blended the genres of hip-hop, blues,funktronica and pop. Now, Brandy has returned to her R&B roots in her sixth studio album, Two Eleven —  proving that Cinderella can still rock the same glass slippers but now in this season’s latest style.

Two Eleven hits the airwaves after her unsuccessful urban pop record Human in 2008. A reference to her Feb. 11 birth date, the album’s title also pays tribute to Whitney Houston, who died on the same day this year. Dealing with the themes of rebirth and renewal, Brandy draws from some of her life’s disappointments — like breaking off her engagement to NBA guard Quentin Richardson in 2005 and causing a car accident in 2006 — and applies her pain  to the music. No longer the young girl from her earliest albums who is unsure of her feelings, Brandy is a mature woman who expresses her love in a contemplative, poignant way and communicates her remorse and desire to move forward.

In “Without You,” “No Such Thing As Too Late” and “Hardly Breathing,” Brandy showcases her vocal range and portrays the emotions associated with each stage of relationships with simple yet meaningful lyrics. Combined with soft beats and soulful harmonies, all three singles allow the listener to relate to the singer’s message. They present a stark contrast to her earlier R&B hits whose head-bopping rhythms drowned out any sense of significance in the lyrics.

Brandy also collaborated with DJ Bangladesh and singer Chris Brown for a few of the album’s tracks, adding somewhat of a hip-hop flair to her collection of smooth tunes. In “Put It Down,” her collaboration with Brown, she performs an up-tempo rap. Of the two tracks produced by Bangladesh, “Let Me Go” stands out as a potential radio hit. Fusing Brandy’s and Swedish sensation Lykke Li’s music, Bangladesh produces a club-style single that mixes ethnic pop melodies with the soft pulsing of R&B.

Two Eleven will please those who enjoy Brandy’s old music in that it retains her classic R&B style. However, by presenting contemplative lyrics and displaying her incredible, matured vocal range, Brandy proves that she is no longer the naive teenager she played in “Moesha.”

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