Jenifer lopez has always been the queen of RnB and to everyone is an icon in the genre. This album for me has been great to listen to in the car, it has a couple of relaxing tracks with a symphony and a few with an upbeat hip hop feel. But the thing that i like most of all is that beautiful voice she has. She never misses a note, never sounds off key and really goes for it on the high hats.
The first couple of tracks are slowed RnB tracks that talk almost entirely about love, but its when you get to track 6, "never gonna give up" do you truly appreciate what J.Lo is all about. The track starts with a classical symphany for the first minute and a half and then her voice comes in and starts hitting the high notes. She can do ballads as well as RnB and hip hop tracks, and thats what i like, its the sort of Hybrid genres she creates, you just dont get that with albums by Rhianna, who just sticks to one genre.
Mile in these shoes (track 7) has a flowing ballad feel to it with a very slow BPM and personally, i dont like the lyrics, but because they are sung so beautifully i actually really enjoyed the song despite this. There are no effects or frills to ruin the song, vocal loops are out of the question, the whole album is sung without much electronic assistance. Its a good album because its raw, and a stripped back to basics album.
The instruments on this album range from piano and violin to guitar, drums and synthesizer. Thats where it stops though, there are no electronic sound effects anywhere, and you dont get cheap "brake" effects or reverse effects on the lyrics unlike most RnB tracks which are completely digital with some singer or rapper giving a half hearted performance.
This album sums up J.Lo completely, its all about the voice and lyrics. There are a couple tracks i dont like the lyrics for but her voice more than makes up for it. Its so rare to get an RnB album without a ton of effects and electronic cluter. A great recommended album.
When BRAVE is good, it's brilliant.
It mixes R&B, dance and pop, with a few ballads thrown it. Jennifer's vocals have cleaarly improved immensely from her earlier albums.
After her last few album's [This Is Me... Then, Rebirth and Como Ama Una Mujer]
were mauled by critics Jennifer didn't mess around here and hired the likes of J. R. Rotem, Bloodshy & Avant, Midi Mafia, and Ryan Tedder to write and produce.
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But does BRAVE have some really good tracks? The first single `Do It Well' is a fantastic hip hop/dance hybrid, as is second single 'Hold It, Don't Drop It'.
More time was clearly spent polishing up the tracks `Forever' and 'Brave' - planned future singles?
[I've heard that a music video for Brave was planned and maybe even filmed before the label pulled the plug].
`Stay Together', `The Way It Is', `Wrong When You're Gone' and `Mile In These Shoes' are also above average.
That only leaves 4 songs that aren't bad, just boring. `Gotta Be There', `Never Gonna Give Up', `Be Mine' and `I Need Love'.
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My only real compliant is with the `Do It Well' remix, featuring Ludacris. Simpley put it's a pointless filler. Why ruin a good song?
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While casual listeners may find BRAVE to be hit or miss, the enthusiast will find this to be a solid entry is Ms Lopez' résumé
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1. Stay Together
3. Hold It Don't Drop It
4. Do It Well
5. Gotta Be There
6. Never Gonna Give Up
7. Mile In These Shoes
8. Way It Is
9. Be Mine
10. I Need Love
11. Wrong When You're Gone
13. Do It Well (ft. Ludacris)
Certain versions of the album come with a DVD, which contains 4 music videos that can't be found on Jennifer's 'Reel Me' music DVD, so this is a good chance to fill the gaps in your collection.
1. Get Right [Hip-Hop remix] (ft. Fabolous)
2. Hold You Down (ft. Fat Joe)
3. Que Hiciste
4. Me Haces Falta
Jennifer Lopez ditched her JLO roots and started afresh with Rebirth, but the public was not interested. Suddenly her fantastically successful career was on the line. After dire performances by her films, especially the razzie nominated Gigli, her music career seemed to be the only side of her movie-music crossover still in tact. She had to prove herself. Fast.
Things were on the up when she released her Spanish album Como Ama Una Mujer. It was the perfect chance for her to get in touch with her Puerto Rican roots, improve her Spanish and step away from the mainstream.
Later that year she returned to the main stage with the pop/r'n'b/hip hop/dance infusion that is Brave.
Vocals: Jennifer has never been known for fantastic vocals, and this album does not change that. At times it seems like she is talking over the track instead of singing (listen to Forever), and there are times when she lets the backing singers or demo artist earn their keep (listen Wrong When You're Gone, originally recorded by Keri Hilson). Jennifer is one of those singers who can hide behind dance tracks, but ballads like Wrong When You're Gone and Never Gonna Give Up show her lack of vocal talent.
Lyrics: Mile In These Shoes is the only song not about love. Artists' work tends to reflect what they were living at that point in their lives, and this album's constant love theme shows this. Jennifer was (and still is) happily married and trying for a baby, so it feels natural that she was drawn to singing about love. It is just a shame that she did not venture further, especially on an album called Brave.
Music: Most of music leans towards funk/the 70s, like on the tracks Stay Together, Hold It Don't Drop It and Gotta Be There, with its Michael Jackson circa Jackson 5 soundalike. The songs sound similar to Amerie's One Thing and Beyonce's Crazy In Love. There are sprinkles of other genres, Brave is pop, Never Gonna Give Up is classical when it first starts, and the rapper Ludacris on Do It Well brings a taste of hip hop.
To be honest, when I first heard the album's sampler I was very disappointed. Nothing pulled me to want more, so when the album was released, and sold poorly, I was not surprised. When I did give it a chance my feelings were much better, and some songs had to grow over a few listens. I can listen to the entire album without skipping any tracks except for Brave. The song is too light and fluffy for my tastes- Americans would probably call it 'corny'. Jennifer talks about being brave despite your fears, but it's so light it fails to be convincing.
Stand out tracks: Mile In These Shoes, Forever, Hold It Don't Drop It
Brave is an ironic name for J.Lo's new album because it's anything but; there is very little fresh material added and there's never anything truly innovative or cutting edge pulsating through the 13 track set. Infact, it takes more from vintage r n b than anything out recently, which, surprisingly, turns out to be no bad thing, because she has crafted a fun, breezy and catchy set of pop blowouts and breathy ballads with a few winks to the past. It's never truly surprising, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in sharp beats, hippy-dippy sentiments and huge production values. There are some genuinely cool dance hits, a sprinkling of 'you-go-girl' shout along, a few trumpet filled belters and enough light-soul balladry to keep the thing well rooted. There are more than a few missteps and none of the tunes are genuinely memorable, but it has a certain dog eared charm, a kind of shabby energy that makes it a refreshing change of pace for the Latin lovely. Brave sees Lopez ditching the 'I'm just like your friends, I'm from the Bronx, I'm a normal girl!' rubbish and shows that when she concentrates her passion she can create some crackers.
Stay Together: This is probably the most dancey song on the CD; complete with sing along worthy chorus and a fresh, urban backing that keeps it ticking along nicely. The lyrics are some bogus about staying together but Lopez's smooth, foot stomping vocals are put to very good use (her styling's are particularly well suited to the fast pace and electro-funk melody) and the production is vast and professional. It's not a particularly memorable song as it displays very little originality or emotion, but it serves its purpose as a fun, dance filler to start the album off with a bang.
Good Points: It's a fun new direction for Lopez, it's got a great beat, very danceable, starts things off nicely
Not So Good Points: Nothing new, silly lyrics, fairly unmemorable, a little bland at times
3/5 for enjoyment 4/5 for jogging
Forever: this signals a change of pace for Lopez (and the album); it's a mature, hippy-dippy Latin inspired electro ballad that mashes different styles together and mixes them with her silky vocals. It's actually really good, and surprisingly one of the catchiest songs on the album; it has a pleasingly familiar tune and a nicely seductive backing track. What could be repetitive in the song seems tuneful, there are some nice vocal flourishes and it goes down some unexpected avenues with switches is tune and tone. It's probably one of the slowest songs on the album and benefits from the slower pace - its romantic, poppy and a nice fit for her voice. Overall a nice, latino interlude in an album full of dance-floor belters.
Good Points: A catchy tune, nice vocals, a fun Latin backing, fun change of pace, cool lyrics, memorable
Not So Good Points: Kind of repetitive, maybe a little slow
4/5 for enjoyment 3/5 for jogging
Hold It Don't Drop It: This is a vintage R'n'B showdown with a powerful chorus, blaring trumpets, a solid backing track and some sweet lyrics. It a true dance floor filler and revels in its brassy, over the top sound - which is well matched by Lopez doing her best, I can out shout anyone, pop diva impression. The heavy, steady beat and vintage instruments makes it sound quite unique in today's market and it contains one of the best, slamming choruses of the year. It manages to be danceable, without falling into bubble-gum pop and sees Jennifer Lopez bringing it with more force and fire than ever before. It's a solid, big band extravaganza - fresh, funky and at least a little surprising.
Good Points: Musically accomplished, great use of big band instruments, wicked chorus, Lopez brings a lot of passion to the piece, good change of pace
Not So Good Points: Verses don't match the chorus in quality, some silly bits and a weird contrast to the song before
4/5 for enjoyment 5/5 for jogging
Do it Well: Probably the most reminiscent of Lopez's earlier music, Do it Well is a slightly electro urban hit with a nice chorus, some fun musical flourishes and cool dancey atmosphere. It feels very contemporary and glossy which makes it a fun, faceless pop hit. There's nothing that stands out on this one - it's breezy and enjoyable, but leaves little lasting impression. The backing is mainly computerised; giving it a sort of 80s feel and the lead vocal's aggressiveness seems at odds with the more subtle beat of it all. Not quite as dancey as Hold It Don't Drop It, but it still has enough pace and rhythm to get you up on your feet and it does have a few funky bits.
Good Points: Quite cool, fun chorus and very listenable
Not So Good Points: Not very memorable, Lopez's voice doesn't suit the song, a bit overdone.
3/5 for enjoyment 5/5 for jogging
Gotta Be There: This feels like filler; very unoriginal and unmemorable, it lacks anything special and Lopez is drowned out by overly fussy and annoying backing music - it is very reminiscent of her duet with LL Cool J All I Have. It tries to mix urban influences into the dreamy ballad genre and comes off as odd and flimsy. At first it sounds promising with an inventive tune and some nice vocals, but it goes down-hill quickly: the vocals sound off-key and the backing music feels recycled. The lyrics aren't much better and the song seems to go on for much longer than the rest of them. It could have been a cool, contemporary slice of Latin pop - but the overblown production values and off kilter vocals ruin the effect.
Good Points: it starts off well, have a laid back more mature atmosphere,
Not So good Points; Feels like filler, nothing memorable, very routine and flat
2/5 for enjoyment 2/5 for jogging
Never Gonna Give Up: This is a really interesting song; a pretty ballad over the top of sweeping violins and very sparse backing which slowly and seamlessly turns into a cool R'n'B pop song and then back again. It's definitely the most adventurous, inventive and bold move on the album and it works really well - the romantic lyrics don't seem mushy and Lopez puts in the best vocals of her career. It's very unique and sweet, with an engaging tune and some melodic surprises, the violins are gorgeous and a nice contrast with the songs Latin influences. It's a really pretty song and beats most of the ballads released and it's a nice opportunity for Lopez to show what she's capable of.
Good Points: Violins are nice, very inventive, creative, Lopez sounds amazing, romantic lyrics but not overly sentimental
Not So Good Points: Maybe a little slow for the dance crowd, sounds weird against the heavier tracks on the album
4/5 for enjoyment 2/5 for jogging
Mile In These Shoes: This is perhaps my favourite song off the album; it's a sweaty, atmospheric belter with a wicked addictive chorus, ridiculous backing beat and uplifting you-go-girl lyrics. It's unlike anything else in Lopez's repertoire but she brings fire and power to the song and its anthem like backing music makes for a truly interesting listen. It's very dance worthy, with an instantly recognisable hook and clever melodic twists with some inspired Aztec like backing vocals and a really good pace. Sing along worthy and super modern, it's definitely a floor filler and it helps that it has a genuinely good message behind it. The production of the song is grand and polished and it's unique, stirring atmosphere makes it a particular, powerful highlight on the album.
Good Points: Atmospheric, very thematic, really great hook, funky chorus, it's unique, nice lyrics, fierce vocals
Not So Good Points: It's not really in keeping with the feel of the album.
5/5 for enjoyment 5/5 for jogging
The Way It Is: Again filler; an upbeat, R'n'B-pop mix that ticks along quite nicely with repetitive lyrics and a fairly unmemorable tune. It's alright but it sounds similar to alot of things on the market with nothing special or creative to recommend it - and its repetitiveness is annoying rather than catchy. It has a soft drum backing, with a more conventional hip-hop beat over the top which is fairly pleasant but Lopez's vocals seem to clash with the vibe and she sounds off key for a lot of it. As there are no creative elements to the song, there is nothing to cling onto -without any clever hooks or surprises it just goes past you leaving very little impact.
Good Points: Still fairly listenable, more mature than previous songs, nice backing
Not So Good Points: Lopez sounds off-key, very unmemorable, leaves no impact
2/5 for enjoyment 2/5 for jogging
Be Mine: This is a really inventive and bold hit; reminiscent of 70's funk it shows impressive vocals with a really nice use of instruments. It has a very chilled atmosphere and romantic elements which sound really nice and it has a really cool pace that makes it sound really sensual and sweet. The backing music varies from hip-hop to funk and pop, with a variety of themes. The lyrics are some of the most impressive on the album - showing a maturity and seriousness which is a refreshing change of pace and the overall feeling is one of cool sophistication. It's a really clever, smooth hit that has a few unique flourishes and a fun, modern beat.
Good Points: A really cool introduction, nice backing track, sweet vocals, a variety of musical instruments used
Not So Good Points: Maybe a little slow
4/5 for enjoyment 2/5 for jogging
I Need Love: This is the worst song on the album, a drippy, slow ballad that makes very little sense and shows no creativity or anything of interest . It's boring through and through and reeks with a lack of energy or passion - Lopez's vocals sound phoned in and the lyrics are consistently stupid. The backing music is fairly routine with some subtle violins and bleeping sound effects, but the overall effect is just slow and uninspired/insipid. The chorus is very slow and repetitive with very little emotional or musical impact - the sweetness sounds saccharine rather than romantic and the ending feels rushed and too sudden. Not a great addition to the album as it doesn't play to Lopez's strengths and lacks anything very interesting.
Good Points: Change of pace, semi-romantic atmosphere
Not So Good Points: Boring, slow, irritating lyrics, bad vocals, very unoriginal, routine
2/5 for enjoyment 2/5 for jogging
Wrong When You're Gone: A nice, mid-tempo hit that has a catchy chorus, some nice vocal work and some sweet lyrics - it's not very special but doesn't feel like filler due to the heavy, interesting beat and lovely piano introduction. It sounds like it should be on a film soundtrack, very smooth and emotive with a few nice surprises. The lyrics are mature, sad and intelligent and Lopez's vocals are good enough to keep things moving along smoothly and the overall production is clean and efficient with a variety of instruments used. It adds a fun new texture to the album and serves as a pretty, but depthless hit to show off Lopez's new found maturity.
Good Points: Easy to listen to, Lopez sounds really good, sweet
Not So Good Points: Again a little slow, lacks a good hook, not very memorable
4/5 for enjoyment 2/5 for jogging
Brave: A really well developed and produced track to end the album - with a really nice chorus, a heavy, fun backing beat and some great vocal work. The lyrics are well rounded and tell a nice story, whilst the contrast between Lopez's high vocals and the urban beat makes for a memorable and clever mix. It serves as a nice bookend to the album, leaving things on a stylish and contemporary note with a really cool backing track and fresh, sophisticated atmosphere.
5/5 for enjoyment 4/5 for jogging
Overall I was impressed with Jennifer Lopez's latest album; I chose to buy it because I figured it would be a good CD to run to, but as it turns out that it has some pretty sweet and clever tracks which show Lopez maturing as an artist and growing into her talent.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Stay Together
3 Hold It Don't Drop It
4 Do It Well
5 Gotta Be There
6 Never Gonna Give Up
7 Mile In These Shoes
8 Way It Is
9 Be Mine
10 I Need Love
11 Wrong When You're Gone
13 Do It Well - Lopez, Jennifer & Ludacris