Babyface’s music always sounds better when someone else is singing it, whether it’s Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men or even Madonna. Even the best ‘Face song Babyface ever sang still pales next to the worst ‘Face song performed by another artist. It’s no surprise then that his latest solo effort, Face2Face, designed as a “pivotal moment of redefinition” for the famous singer-songwriter, falls short of stellar. Babyface’s transformation was supposed to come in a more upbeat, danceable form, and the album’s daring first single, “There She Goes,” definitely prevails. It’s a successful foray into edgier R&B fare for the singer, his falsetto vocals (which grow irksome on slower tracks like “U Should Know” and “Don’t Take It Personal”) clearly inspired by Jay-Z’s recent hit, “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It to Me).” Both songs were produced by hip-hop duo The Neptunes, whom Babyface commissioned to help spice up his waning sound. “Baby’s Mama,” which meshes the crooner with Snoop Dogg surprisingly well, lends the album its other worthy hip-hop-infused track. Filled with spooky Scooby-Doo whistle effects and a sampled horn section, the song urges disrespectful players to be nicer to the mothers of their children. The rest of the album, however, is just downright dull. Tracks like the opening “Outside In/Inside Out” are home to super-simplistic melodies and slogans that sound like they’re straight out of a Sesame Street teaching aid. Gone is the classic style of balladry that made Babyface famous (“Breathe Again,” “End of the Road,” among others); his famous hits may have been painfully formulaic but they were time-proven and perfected. In their place are songs like “What If” and “How Can U Be Down,” which feature all-too-similar melodic and rhythmic patterns. Babyface draws on the classic sounds of Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield but a bit of jazzy Harlem soul is way too subtle—rather, smothered—to save Face.
- Release Date
- August 23, 2001
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