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Album review: Brandy's 'Human'

Brandy_240_2 Brandy hasn't released a new album since 2004's "Afrodisiac," but she's hardly spent the last four years in obscurity: In 2006 the 29-year-old singer-actor was involved in a traffic accident on the 405 Freeway that killed another driver, and though she's been cleared of all criminal charges, she still faces a $50-million wrongful-death suit filed by the dead woman's family.

Given its moody melodies and midtempo beats -- not to mention lyrics like, "I make mistakes but I can't turn back time / I'm only human, forgive me," from the title track -- it's hard not to hear "Human" as Brandy's musical response to that experience.

Unfortunately, it's also hard to make it through the thing. Brandy's strong suit has never been her thoughtfulness; appropriately for someone with her Hollywood history, she's long been one of R&B's emptiest vessels, a gorgeous voice used by a series of gifted producers (including Rodney Jerkins, Timbaland and Kanye West) to communicate their own unique ideas.

In "I Tried," one of the best cuts on "Afrodisiac," when Brandy sings about wanting to hear some Coldplay, Timbaland ingeniously weaves an interpolation of the band's music into the track.

On "Human" you can hear Brandy striving (understandably) to express herself, yet the result rarely rises above diary-entry tedium. "The whole world is freezing / Need to warm it up with love," she pleads at one point. The few highlights come when Jerkins, who helmed most of the album, including the catchy lead single, "Right Here [Departed]," manages to dial down Brandy's introspection and increase the groove factor.

-- Mikael Wood

One and a half stars

Comments () | Archives (47)

I don't agree with a lot of comments both by the critic and the comments above. This album Has a lot of quality but it still is not better then here never say never album. Her songs were alot stronger lyrically on that album then any album todate. But vocally she has alot more emotions and passion behind this album. She is more touching on the aspect of love and finding love if you actually listen to the album. With songs such as "fall", "long distance", "true", "shattered Heart", basically dange near the whole album she is expressing different types of love that she is going through. There is hints behind her life past like the "Lie behind her marriage where she says "she might just tell a lie, but she's only human".

This album is more personal then any album she has and the lyrics are not completely over shadowed by beatsand a darker tone like afrodisiac was. I love This album and feel like even though it may not win a grammy it is a must have album to get you by in a lot of situation and is relatable to more then one group of people and feeling of love. From the longing to be with someone in "long distance" , to the insecurities in "true", to that loving and wanting to share the love your in with the world sound in "1st and love". This cd covers so many areas and was very much worth wait. She has stayed true to an innocent sound that she started out with and has not compromised her self as an artist with the drastic change in trashy lyrics as other artist do just to have a hit single. She has showed that you don't have to sale sex to sale an album and still be around

I Love this album and I cannot stop listening to it. I listen to this album everyday! I feel the people who do not like this album are not listening to the words of her songs..there is not one bad song on her album. Music is not all about beats but it is about what inspires you (if you get what I am saying). I love this album && encourage everybody to go get it! You will not be dissapointed!

I can agree with everyone here, that album review is trash.
I've been listening to brandys album Human for the past 2 days.
Its wonderful, Beyonce has some amazingly real competition, and her name is Brandy Norwood.
This Uniquely carved AQUARUIS newest album is only the mere future of music, from ballads like Mr. Panio Man, to 1st & Love.
These songs are BEAUTIFUL, and STRONG.
She expresses how she LOVES in every form in this album.
TRUE to herself, the ONLY singer that has stayed humble and pure through her carreer.

It seems a lot of people that aren't "feeling" this album seem to be focused on album sales or "danceability" or comparisons to other artists who are more mainstream and commercial...Brandy has a marketable realness about her for one....and besides that, her voice and ability and vocal arrangements are phenomenal.....

And inspite of what the reviewer says, Brandy actually COLLABORATES with these producers as any of the producers that worked with her in the studio will atest to. She's not just a voice that people manipulate. Brandy is an artist.

And this fifth album "HUMAN" is amazing. I can't say it enough. I listen to straight through and let it continue on and on over and over....has not left my car stereo yet! It takes you to another place...a place of self-reflection, lessons learned, empowerment, and love. This album was well done.

She straight murdered this album. Oops!

you are obviously biased against brandy, and it is sad that you based your review on your own prejudices.


I'm a little shocked by this review. I've never been a huge fan of Brandi, but wanted to listen to the album because I heard from friends of how deeply emotional and heart felt her ballads on this album were and I must say that this is one of the few albums that I can listen to from beginning to end. This is absolutely a wonderful album and it reveals the ups and downs of life. She's clearly been through a lot in the last four years and she does a great job of addressing her ups and downs through song. I have to say this is by far the best album that I have heard this year. I'm not sure if it will be a commercially successful album, because there aren't a lot of feel good, dance, club songs, but it is a very, very, very real album. I LOVE IT!!!

It takes a mature ear (knowledge of music) and a mature spirit to truly enjoy her albums. If you havent been through much, or you're just a shallow person, you wont connect much. But if you have some depth about yourself, it's easy to love her.

The reviewers should never be biased. And should atleast have some reason behind what simply looks like trolling.

Brandy is a beast, and is vocally untouchable

Thanks Trevor Wood, I think you gave a spot-on review. 'Human' does not touch 'Afrodisiac'. Ask yourself if you'll be listening to these songs in a month, let alone a year. I was able to listen to Afrodisiac for two years frequently. Supposedly she had been working on this album since 2005, but that seems so hard to believe given the material. There are some decent songs on here, but nothing with lasting potential. It's also a very short album. I do understand that Rodney and Brandy had chemistry, "What About Us?" is an amazing song and I really did like the whole Full Moon album, regardless of some expected cheese. I'd be interested to know what else Trevor Wood has been listening to as he seems like one of the only respondants who gave an honest review. I'm a huge Brandy fan, but am able to be objective about this album. I like some songs, but I don't think she did anything interesting or progressive here.

This album is amazing. The reviewer obviously does not know good music! Great job Brandy. B-ROCKA is back. Haters sit down!

I've been listening to Brandy my whole life and loving every album better than the last. Brandy outdoes herself with each album: Full Moon blew me away with tracks like "Come a Little Closer", "Love Wouldn't Count Me Out", etc, then Afrodisiac had great sultry, sounds like "I Tried", "Focus", "Should I Go" (with the borrowed score from Coldplay's "Clocks").

I agree with previous comments, you don't get that urge to skip through the tracks on her latest album "Human". Each song sort of has its own message and almost seems to resonate with you all the way through. It just feels so real and true. Even the more commercial, heavy beat songs like Piano Man and 1st & Love have a certain deeper quality about them.

Today ppl listen for the club affinity/danceability of trax, how hard-hitting they are. The thing abt songs like that is that they are never in short supply, the song on top of the charts is sure to be bumped off by another a wk later. I luv that Brandy did not try to play it like 'those' artistes and out a frivilous, so-called commercial track but stayed true to herself. I've been waiting for this for 4 years and I am anything but disappointed.

In 3 yrs, I would still be pumping up this album in my car, like I still do Afrodisiac and Full Moon (even Never Say Never on the odd day). It's one of the best albums I've heard in a while. Granted I'm probably a die-hard Brandy fan but I think it takes a particular breed of person to appreciate a particular brand of artistery, and Brandy certainly is right up there with the greats.

This album is one of Brandy's best by far!!!!!! This reviewer is clearly bias. This album ranks right up there with Never say Never. Go get this album if u want to hear some real singing and beautiful ballads.

i've read all the comments above and have to say i have been a fan of brandy for years. she not only touches me but i love her voice, it's different. what i appreicated most about her latest work is that she has pressed her vocal range to the limit. i will admit that at first when i saw the track listing i was like omg: why are all the songs chosen about love? but then again, this is what is seriously missing today in the world. somehow when i listen to HUMAN i dont feel like shutting myself away from the world. i feel like giving. should she have sung more songs about throwin $ and shakin our asses? na, that's not brocka's style. u have to be an appreciator of music to understand the depth of this album. the musical production isn't the greatest, but it allows her voice to shine through. people will either love it or hate it. but for me it has been inspiring and encouraging. i have hardly gotten this from other rnb artistes lately.

As always, most of the negative opinions here are nothing but garbage. I was truly impressed by Brandy's new album. It is the realest yet. She has produced something that I can not only relate to, but actually feel deep in my soul. Her vocal range was awesome, and not only that but the songs she put on the album show that she seems to be more in touch with reality and herself. That is something missing in a lot of artists out today.

I am a Brandy fan, but that does not mean I will accept any and everything from an artist and Brandy is no exception. I look for music that makes me feel and with Human I get that. I am not looking for some bubble gum, pop music that will only last in my head for a week or two due to excessive beats, repetitive one liners, and poor lyrics over all.

Get the album and listen to it yourself people. The author of this review clearly had something stuck up his, and could not think straight. His apologies I am sure, and hopefully a new review to come soon.

I am wondering whether the reviewer actually sat down and listened to the album?
This review is biased and unrepresentative of this music.

'Human' is undoubtedly Brandy's most mature and emotional album, which reflects her personal struggles over the previous 4 years. Although 'Never Say Never' and 'Full Moon' are lauded as her most successful albums, the 2008 release is her first album to present Brandy, not as an artist, but as a human.

An outstanding album that should be applauded and revered. Beautiful, heartfelt music which fits perfectly with Brandy's silky yet raspy voice. A masterpiece of R'n'B perfection in my opinion.

I strongly agree with this review. The first time I listened to this album, I found myself desperately wanting to put something else in around the halfway point. I didn't want to believe that this was actually being put out as the follow-up to Brandy's far superior previous album. While stunning tracks like "I Tried" and "Focus" made Afrodisiac an album that was simultaneously mature and brilliantly-produced, tracks like "The Definition" and "Camouflage" make Human sound like a comparative complete misfire. While none of the tracks are unbearable R&B fare, most of them do not live up to the potential we heard on her last two albums. I absolutely love "Right Here", "Long Distance", and "Piano Man" (despite the fact that the very electronic production completely takes away from the picture of a piano bar painted by the lyrics (something more along the lines of Christina Aguilera's track, "Soar", would have been more sensible)). Outside of that, I feel that the rest of the tracks range from "acceptable" to "mind-numbing" (whoever thought that the line "locked in a jar with my heart like a piggy bank" was a good one must have come fresh from a Disney tween recording session). I hope that this album doesn't put an end to Brandy's career because she is a very special artist. Ideally, she will get her senses back after her wrongful death lawsuit is over and will reunite with Timbaland and Kanye West.

Many songs were dropped from this album like After the flood, Porcline, Drum life and a few others...then some tracks also appeared on the Delux Version. Sadly these songs that were dropped were Fantastic tracks.

All in all, there seems to have been a massive volume of high quality songs recorded for HUMAN, but with the change of executive producers alot of songs were cut from Timbaland.

I have got hold of most missing tracks and I am so happy I did!

This album is the best album Ive heard in a long long time!! I love music so so much and always liked Brandy. This album is amazing, there's no filler on here at all I love every track! Such talent on Production and Vocals from Brandy just make it a pleasure to listen constantly.

If you buy the Delux version and search for the deleted tracks from the album all together you have what sounds like a greatest hits to me! Check out youtube for Songs like Drum life or After the flood...

The Reviewer of this album needs to change job! Didnt even review the album just went on about pointless crap, really really amature and very poor review

An absolutely useless and subjective review...what a waste of kilobytes!

Brandy has still got it, despite being in the "cold" for all those years...banging tracks, soulful tunes and that signature Brandy harmony that you can't quite get enough of! An excellent album, in case you couldn't read between those lines!

M. Wood are you reviewing Afrodesiac or Human...? Make up your mind pls. Human is a very beautiful album which is no surprise seeing that it's Brandy's. BRocka welcome back. We missed you... see you at the Grammys 2010

THE album is AMAZIN. I love EVERY single track of it. The review defnitly aint done correctly in my opinion. Foreverbrandy

How can a CD that is wonderful from beginning to end be given such a bad review? Do you have a personal issues with Brandy? In an industry where you buy a CD and can barely manage to like one song, she gives you a complete CD where ALL the songs have good meaning and make sense and you rate her one and a half stars? no one sing good songs again. they just hit the drums and make videos to cover up the stupidity of the songs. With HUMAN, i dont need any video to appreciate each song on the CD. Good music to my soul! This a marvelous and spectacular CD!! i just love it and i listen to it everyday!

I really enjoy this album...I listen to it almost everyday.

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