Album review: Babyface hasn’t lost his touch with new album packed with luscious R&B tracks

In his first original album in a decade, Babyface’s new album title suggests that it is a loose sequel to 1989’s Tender Lover.

Return of the Tender Lover by Babyface. Courtesy of Wikipedia
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Return of the Tender Lover

Babyface

(Def Jam)

Three and a half stars

Babyface's new album title suggests that it is a loose sequel to 1989's Tender Lover. In his first original album in a decade, the 56-year-old proves he hasn't lost his touch, with yet another strong batch of R& B tracks lovingly composed and immaculately produced.

The record finds him in celebratory mode as he heralds the power of love and appreciating the strength of the opposite gender. The opener, We've Got Love, is aural honey. Everything is in the right places — from the funk guitar riffs and cascades of synth lines to the warm, approachable vocals.

The blissed-out vibe continues on Exceptional, which rides on a smooth summery groove. Walking on Air's sun-kissed Motown rhythm sounds like an updated version of Marvin Gaye's How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You), while the affectionate Standing Ovation is destined to soundtrack plenty of Mother's Day promotions next year. At times — such as on Love & Devotion and Something About You — the album becomes cloyingly sentimental. However, Babyface keeps the collection down to a tight nine songs that are a welcome return of an R& B ­master-craftsman.

sasaeed@thenational.ae