Sex & Cigarettes

Sex & Cigarettes

This is Toni Braxton’s first solo album in eight years, but—the percolating club beats of “Missin’” aside—she doesn’t feel the need to absorb any prevailing trends to re-announce herself. Over elegant R&B arrangements, her emotionally fluent voice remains a timeless and powerful draw. As she picks through the pain and betrayal of failed love, the defiance she summons on “Deadwood” is as stirring as the despair that sighs across piano ballad “Foh.” Braxton may have preceded this release with the happy news of her engagement to Bryan “Birdman” Williams, but she’s still a potent transmitter of heartache.

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