Grown & Sexy

Studio Album by released in 2005
Grown & Sexy's tracklist:
Tonight It's Goin' Down
Grown & Sexy
Mad, Sexy, Cool
Can't Stop Now
Goin' Outta Business
Drama Love and 'Lationships
Sorry for the Stupid Things
Good to Be in Love
The Loneliness
She
God Must Love U
The Gettin to Know U
She's International

Grown & Sexy review

The recently departed Luther Vandross was the reigning R & B crooner during the '80s and '90s, unleashing a steady stream of love songs. During that era, only one other singer could come close to reaching out and touching like Vandross, and that was Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds. While not the powerhouse vocalist Vandross was, Babyface still pulled heartstrings on his songs. And during his heyday, Babyface had an extra edge in that he produced big hits for everyone - Paula Abdul, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Madonna, Eric Clapton, TLC, *NSYNC, Janet Jackson, Bobby Brown, Toni Braxton and others. His hit parade slowed as hip-hop became bigger and invaded R & B sounds, with younger producers supplanting him. Babyface tried to keep up, but his 2001’s Face2Face was unfulfilling as it strayed too far from his classic crooning sound with mixes by pop producers the Neptunes as well as spots with Snoop Dogg. On the new Grown & Sexy, however, he truly reverts to form. Throughout the 12 tracks Babyface reclaims the love jones that made fans fall for him in the first place. It's a creamy collection of well-produced songs that tell involving stories, his specialty. It's still nice to see Babyface recognize that being grown & sexy is nothing to disguise.

Dipping back into his familiar love and relationship zone, Babyface orchestrates a pleasing album of midtempo songs and ballads brushed with, but not obscured by, a contemporary sheen. Few singers these days seem to know how to be gentlemen, but Babyface hasn't forgotten. He's never crass, whether he's heating up a romance (Tonight It's Going Down) or putting one in the deep freeze (Goin' Outta Business). He readily admits his failings (Sorry for the Stupid Things) and doesn't shy from adult responsibilities (Grown & Sexy). He can get a bit maudlin (The Loneliness), but mostly he delivers slow jams and easy grooves that appeal to the cool in you. Grown & Sexy is a back-to-basics album that sounds a lot more natural in comparison with Face2Face. Written with longtime partner Daryl Simmons and produced with relative newcomer Gregg Pagani (LeAnn Rimes, Will Smith), Grown & Sexy doesn't have any songs that immediately jump out and fall in line with the biggest hits, but it does make up for that with its consistency. Mostly light and easygoing, though not without its fair share of female-male drama (and a couple touches of humor), it's capped off by a great dancefloor track in the form of She's International, showing that he needn't necessarily stick to ballads with acoustic guitars.

In addition to Anita Baker, the underserved adult R & B market has something else to cheer about: Babyface is back. He may still have a baby face, but from the very first song of his first studio album in four years, the 46-year-old Babyface makes it clear that he's going to "keep it grown, keep it sexy." As its title announces, new album makes no attempt to attract hip-hop kids; instead it aims to reunite the smoothie with his ripened female fan base. Babyface writes what women want to hear. Compared to today's generation of R & B studs, he seems a little old fashioned, but the romantic troubadour sounds as genteel as ever. And while Babyface might a bit old school, Grown & Sexy hardly sounds outdated – just classic. Babyface's always alluring tenor is in fine form here, with emotion that never boils over, but simmers with steady heat. And musically, the album offers some of the prolific singer/songwriter/producer's best work.

(04.08.2005)
Rate review3.21
Total votes - 32


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