Album Review: Brandy’s ‘Two Eleven’
Since the release of her self-titled debut album in 1993, Brandy had become a household name. Along with her success in film and television, the multifaceted performer has also managed to cultivate an incredible recording career.
Enduring many ups and downs in both her professional and personal life, the arrival of her sixth studio album makes it apparent that those growing pains have become fuel for an evolution in artistry. The new album is Two Eleven; the title is representative of Brandy’s birthday and the day that her idol and friend Whitney Houston died. Much like her mentor’s expected comeback, Two Eleven signifies a “rebirth” for Brandy.
Following the unremarkable release of Human in 2008, Two Eleven provides a new prospective on life, love, pain, and sexuality. Less pop influenced than past albums, it bolsters a hearty variety of R&B and soul.
Since her departure from Epic Records, the Grammy Award winning performer now finds a new home with Chameleon/RCA. Two Eleven is her first project with the label.
Brandy collaborated with numerous industry professionals on this album including talented producers, Bangladesh and Sean Garrett. Singer-songwriters Frank Ocean and Chris Brown even penned tracks for the R&B songstress.
The commercially successful track “Put It Down” featuring Chris Brown and Brandy’s rapping alter-ego Bran’Nu, is a solidified club banger, but is no indication of what the rest of Two Eleven has to offer.
Along with his contribution on “Put It Down,” Brown also penned “Slower;” a sensual track, where Brandy candidly embraces her sexuality. “Paint This House” and “What You Need” are other examples of the 33-year old mother’s vocalized sexual maturity on the album.
Frank Ocean’s “Scared of Beautiful” is easily my favorite track on Two Eleven. An emotional journey of pain, self-acceptance, and truth; Brandy’s vulnerability is palpable. Considering the hardships that the singer has had to overcome, it is understandable that this track rouses such a passionately honest performance from the artist.
The slower ballads on the album are where Brandy excels. Tracks like “Without You,” “Hardly Breathing,” and “No Such Thing as Too Late” showcase a vocal prowess and innate confidence over carefully layered vocals. Detailed lyrical content thoughtfully embraces her womanhood. No longer innocent Brandy, Two Eleven signifies the rebirth of an experienced mother, friend, and lover.
The warm texture of Brandy’s deep contralto resurfaces in this album in much of the same fashion that it was prevalent in early works, like Never Say Never. Haunting vocal performances of passionate articulation and elaborate harmonies make this album one of her best.
Two Eleven is a testimony of Brandy’s evolution as an individual and an artist. The album stands as a comprehensive work of emotion, strength, and creativity; effortlessly reintroducing us to one of the best R&B vocalists of our time.
Two Eleven is currently available now.
-Jennifer Hall, CBS Local