Taking a cue from the success of 2000’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” Toni Braxton delivers more hip-hop-skewed R&B but smartly balances it with the kind of sultry balladry that made her famous almost a decade ago. As a result, More Than a Woman is hotter than her predominantly adult contemporary The Heat. The album’s first half alternates between edgy hip-hop-flavored fare (the catchy, Neptunes-helmed first single “Hit the Freeway” and the club-ready “Give It Back”) and more experimental R&B (the futuristic R&B ballad “A Better Man” and the rock-tinged “Lies Lies Lies”). The album’s centerpiece is the unfortunately-titled “Rock Me, Roll Me,” a splendid ode to female desire spotted with plucky violins, subtle reverb and Braxton’s distinctive harmonies. Braxton’s alto is as mature and sensual as ever and her ability to interpret material has been largely overlooked. The second half of the album slips back into more measured R&B. “And I Love You,” a requite ballad courtesy of longtime collaborator and mentor Babyface, falls short of the pair’s early partnerships. Ironically, it’s the Rodney Jerkins-produced “Do You Remember When” that successfully harks back to the smooth R&B of Braxton’s self-titled debut. Though varied, More Than a Woman proves to be the singer’s most consistent effort since Toni Braxton.
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