Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Tamar Braxton – My Man

It’s okay Tamar, you can borrow mine.


Lilly Gray: The only real complaint I have is that echoing leeches some of the warmth from Braxton’s voice and adds gothic castle-wailing elements to a song that is really set somewhere with soothing accent lighting and wine, perhaps with an audience of a few comforting and vengeful friends. I’ve never contemplated what it would be like to be the subject of a rich, accusational ballad of betrayal, but her voice and the complete control she has over every declaration, all over her range, makes me extremely glad I have yet to be in the position of the ex-friend in question. 

Alfred Soto: Boy, is that lower register alluring — she’s as compelling as Jazmine Sullivan when she sticks to it. Fortunately, after a couple of failed singles, she sustains the intensity. It won’t blow up, it won’t go pop up, but listeners to so-called adult R&B will succumb to this minor pleasure. Relax and enjoy the show of force.

David Sheffieck: The drum plods enough to pull the song down: it’s as if someone forgot they’d hit the preset. But Braxton’s vocal pyrotechnics and, especially, the palpable venom she strategically deploys on key lyrics (“Heifer!” being the most obvious, but the second verse’s “bull-shit-sto-ries” is even better) manage to keep things interesting anyway. 

Stephen Eisermann: More Broadway than R&B lyrically, this song is elevated by Braxton’s impassioned performance and terrific vocal control. The repetitive chords played in the background serve only as a landscape for her to take us on the journey of her pain. She chronicles the feelings of betrayal from “[her] man” and the anger she feels for the woman she believed to be their friend. It’s a sad tale and the stream of consciousness writing style, though a tad generic, does well to give reasons for why Braxton is singing with the rage and hurt in her voice. The problem here is that this song isn’t a single: the lack of an identifiable chorus will hurt its prospects on the charts and no part of the song strikes me as classically catchy, so I struggle to understand why it was chosen to lead an album’s release. If “Trapped in the Closet” is barely remembered as a meme, I struggle to see how something less campy will make much of a dent.

Edward Okulicz: Braxton’s taken her hitherto-unheard audition tape for a musical, slowed it down, then pasted on the drums intended for a still-slower song. The contrast between the draggy track and her melisma is something, but it’s not something good.

Austin Brown: Guitar vamps and a satisfyingly chunky rhythm section do a lot to give the track that extra oomph, but the vocal runs do push everything into bathos at some point. Don’t get me wrong, she has the range. I’m just more convinced by woundedness delivered via timbre than melisma.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: A nice contrast to “If I Don’t Have You.” The bassline in that track moved like a curlicue, providing the antsy anticipation of wanting someone to stay in a relationship. It’s a sad song but ultimately a hopeful one. The same can’t be said of “My Man,” a confessional that finds Tamar Braxton confronting her father’s infidelity through the eyes of her mother. She already knows how it ends so she has the whole thing chug along at a steady 60 BPM. As Braxton pours it all out, we understand her and her family’s pain. From the lyrics, yes, but also with how our heart rate moves from resting to restless.

Anthony Easton: Reading the new Ann Powers book on sex and American pop music, and before that, earlier last week, reading again Anthony Heilbut’s book The Fan Who Knew Too Much… with its essays on Aretha as a gospel singer and the queerness of gospel organ, I return to an idea that has become received wisdom: all of the best heartbreak R&B comes from the effort to sanctify heartbreak, to universalise desire. The loss of a lover becomes an existential crisis, a tiny microcosm of losing God. That is why the expression “take them to church” is more than a snap queen camp callback. In the florid excess of this, the flooding, the vocal modulations, the call and response, the almost glossolalic pieces between calls of “not my man,” Ms. Braxton sanctifies, Ms. Braxton brings us to CHURCH.  

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

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One Response to “Tamar Braxton – My Man”

  1. Thought I’d blurbed this, definite 7 from me.