Tamia • Love Life • Def Jam • US Release Date: June 9, 2015
“We beat the odds together / didn’t care when they said we’d never last.” Honestly, when is the last time you heard lyrics like that on an R&B album? – Wait don’t answer that! As sad as it is, much of R&B has become oversexed and chivalrous love difficult to find. On Canadian R&B artist Tamia’s first album for a major label in 11 years, Love Life, she emphasizes the totality of the relationship. Love Life is a polished album that doesn’t necessarily rejuvenate the fading R&B genre itself, but it does re-prioritize in the wake of so much superficiality as of late.
“Love Falls Over Me” is an appropriate start to Love Life. Infatuation is definitely part of the deal, and Tamia paints that portrait with the opener. There is no doubt that love is a complete package. “Chaise Lounge” refers to a ‘chaise longue,’ which is a long, lounge chair. So what exactly is T getting at? Sex of course – “Boy take your clothes off.” Not much room for error on this soulful, sensual slow jam. Standout “Sandwich And A Soda” continues to keep it sexy: “If you wanna ride these curves… See I can make you feel good love / and when it’s all over / I’mma fluff your pillow baby / bring you a sandwich and a soda.” Ooh La la! But we know the sensual is directed towards hubby Grant Hill.
“Nowhere” smartly maintains a groove and is one of the more ‘contemporary’ sounding records of the album. “Red Lipstick” is tastefully seductive, never overreaching in regard to sensuality. Tamia is referencing sex once more, but hinting and the art of insinuation is both appreciated and refreshing. “Special” doesn’t even hint at the physical. No frills “Special” is sound and pleasant without percolating.
“Like You Do” is more impressive than “Special” – it has a bit more spice and edge. Like “Red Lipstick,” she cites sex, but it’s all monogamously derived. Sure it may not play as the M.O. for the twentysomething who enjoy the spontaneity of hook-ups, but for the adults, this is Sexiness 101. “Stuck With Me” maintains the dedication, with romance placed at the forefront, while “No Lie” blends emotional and physical.
Penultimate record “Day One” depicts the strength of marriage where true love is the guiding principle. “We’ve got a bond unbreakable,” Tamia sings as she delivers the touching song. On closing cover “Black Butterfly,” Tamia’s voice is filled with passion and power. Much of Love Life finds the singer showcasing poise, so to hear overtness to close the effort is a pro.
All said and done, Love Life has many pros. Throughout the effort, Tamia is rock solid and does a sound job of delivering R&B for the grown folks. The main rub, however, is that Love Life is too conservative. No, that doesn’t mean that Tamia needed to become this risqué, contemporary R&B singer suddenly, but a few more risks would’ve made Love Life more exciting. Still, given the intended audience, Love Life is a respectable effort.
Favorites: “Chaise Lounge,” “Sandwich And A Soda,” “Red Lipstick,” “Like You Do”