Libra (Toni Braxton album)

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Libra
Studio album by Toni Braxton
Released September 27, 2005 (2005-09-27)
Recorded 2004–2005;
DenDiezel, Soulpower Studio, The Underlab
(Los Angeles, California)
Doppler Studios, Silent Sound Studios, Upstairs Studio
(Atlanta, Georgia)
Encore Studios
(Burbank, California)
The Hit Factory Criteria
(Miami, Florida)
Ocean Way Recording
(Hollywood, Los Angeles, California)
The Poolhouse
(New York City, New York)
The Village
(West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California)
Genre R&B, hip hop, soul
Length 40:00
Label Blackground
Producer Rich Harrison, Scott Storch, Bryan-Michael Cox, Keri Lewis, The Underdogs, Babyface, Antonio Dixon, Soulshock & Karlin, Cory Rooney, Dan Shea
Toni Braxton chronology
More Than a Woman
(2002)
Libra
(2005)
Pulse
(2010)
Alternative cover
European re-release cover
Singles from Libra
  1. "Please"
    Released: May 30, 2005
  2. "Trippin' (That's the Way Love Works)"
    Released: September 26, 2005
  3. "Take This Ring"
    Released: December 2005
  4. "Suddenly"
    Released: February 2006
  5. "The Time of Our Lives"
    Released: June 15, 2006

Libra is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Toni Braxton. It was released in the United States on September 27, 2005 by Blackground Records. The album's title is a reference to Braxton's astrological sign, Libra.

The album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and at number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, selling 114,000 copies in its first week.[1] Only three singles were released from the album, and due to lack of promotion from Blackground Records, Braxton's then-record label, all of them failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, subsequently causing Braxton to terminate her contract with the label. Nonetheless, as a result of the European success of "The Time of Our Lives"—Braxton's collaboration with the group Il Divo, which served as the official 2006 FIFA World Cup theme song—, German label Edel Records re-released the album in continental Europe in late June 2006 including "The Time of Our Lives" as well as a brand-new cover art. Previously, the regular European edition of the album had included three bonus tracks: "Suddenly", "I Hate You", and "Long Way Home". The song "Stupid", which is track 8 of the album, has briefly appeared in the 2005 Tyler Perry film Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Libra gained gold status by the Recording Industry Association of America on November 4, 2005,[2] having sold over 441,000 copies within the U.S. to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[3]

The album cover was included on Maxim '​s list of Sexiest Album Covers.[4]

Album information[edit]

From 1993 until 2000 Toni Braxton produced 12 top 10 singles and three consecutive multi platinum albums within the US alone. Two of which sold 8 million copies a piece in the states and 22 million combined worldwide. "Libra" was pushed back 3 times before finally being released in September 5, 2006.[5]

Libra marks Toni Braxton's departure from Arista Records, her longtime label. It was a stormy relationship that ended with the fast death of 2002's fine More Than a Woman. Only one Neptunes-produced single was spun off from it, which peaked somewhere in the eighties of the Hot 100. Half a year after the album's release, Braxton was off Arista and on the Universal-distributed Blackground, but Libra didn't surface until fall of 2005. Libra is lean and balanced, it winds up a safe distance from the likes of the self-titled debut and Secrets.[6]

An album rich with serene mellow tunes, Libra finds the singer at her adventurous best breathing soul into tales of love: some falling into love, others fading away from it, still others basking in its silky center. The songs throwbacks to some of her classics from her 1996 album "Secrets".[5] It also features hip-hop tracks.[5]

Digital downloads[edit]

Some U.S. retail stores, such as Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart, included a bonus digital download when Libra was first released. The tracks given for digital download were either a leftover track or one of the bonus tracks featured on the album's 2006 European pressing. The track "Places" was included as a digital download at Wal-Mart stores.

Songs[edit]

The album's first track and lead-single "Please" is produced by Scott Storch and it's an arresting danceable ballad recalling the glory moments of her early days. The second track, the ballad "Trippin' (That's the Way Love Works)", is sang in a rapping way, with fast talking where the melody isn't lost and harmonizing is inserted at the right moments.[5] The album's third track "What's Good" is a decidedly traditional ballad, Isley Brothers-esque throwback and uses a clip from Joe Sample's "In My Wildest Dreams".[5][7] The fourth track "Take This Ring" produced by Rich Harrison, is an upbeat heavily percussion driven record. An aggressive song that is balanced by well managed vocal arrangements lead by unapologetic lyrics.[5] It was compared to Amerie's 1 Thing, also produced by Harrison.[6] It has drum-and-bass-heavy accusational fire.

"Suddenly", which only appears on the European edition of the album, is a relatively jazzy track.[5] It's easily comparable to How Could an Angel Break My Heart" and it features the trumpeter Chris Botti.[5] "I Wanna Be (Your Baby)" is a ballad written by Babyface and Daryl Simmon.[7] "Sposed to Be" is a "tranquil song" with a finger snapping groove.[5] The self-recriminating "Stupid" was compared to the work of Anita Baker.[7][8] "Finally" makes lyrical references to past hits like "Breathe Again".[7] "Shadowless" is an acoustic guitar ballad in which she sings about a love lost and a plea to win it back.[5]

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album had only one official single and video for the song "Please". However, the album still managed to debut at #4 on Billboard 200 and #2 on the Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. With no real help from her label, on November 4, 2005 "Libra" was certified Gold by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and sold over 441,000 copies according to Nielsen Soundscan.

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[6]
Entertainment Weekly B+[9]
People 3/4 stars[10]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[7]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5 stars[5]
USA Today 3/4 stars[8]

Andy Kellman wrote for Allmusic that "Libra offers no surprises. It's lean and balanced, just like all other Braxton albums, though too many songs are tepid and merely functional for background listening, so it winds up a safe distance from the likes of the self-titled debut and Secrets.[6] Steve Jones wrote for USA Today that "the more mature Braxton is no longer waiting around for someone else to un-break her heart."[8] Jazzy K from Sputnikmusic was very positive, writing that it's "an album rich with serene mellow tunes" and that it's "an album worthy of a place in your R&B collection."[5]

Sal Cinquemani wrote a mixed review for Slant Magazine, saying that "While Braxton meshed impeccably with her hip-hop counterparts on More Than A Woman, her collaboration with Rich Harrison sounds forced, even desperate. And with the Babyface and Daryl Simmons-penned "I Wanna Be (Your Baby)", the team that once delivered multiple R&B classics all on one Braxton record struggles to produce just one for their old friend here."[7]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Please"   Scott Storch, Makeba Riddick, Vincent Herbert, Kameron Houff Scott Storch 3:57
2. "Trippin' (That's the Way Love Works)"   Bryan-Michael Cox, Kendrick Dean, Johnta Austin, Toni Braxton Bryan-Michael Cox, Keri Lewis, WyldCard 4:05
3. "What's Good"   Cox, Austin, Braxton, Joe Sample Cox, Lewis 4:14
4. "Take This Ring"   Rich Harrison Rich Harrison 4:35
5. "Midnite"   Carsten Schack, Kenneth Karlin, Harold Lilly Soulshock & Karlin 4:11
6. "I Wanna Be (Your Baby)"   Harvey Mason, Jr., Damon Thomas, Kenneth Edmonds, Daryl Simmons The Underdogs, Babyface 3:48
7. "Sposed to Be"   Antonio Dixon, Keri Hilson, Patrick "j.Que" Smith, Mason, Thomas Antonio Dixon 4:07
8. "Stupid"   Cory Rooney, Braxton, Keri Lewis Cory Rooney, Keri Lewis, Dan Shea 3:36
9. "Finally"   Mason, Thomas, Dixon, Eric Dawkins, Durrell Babbs Dixon 3:30
10. "Shadowless"   Alex Cantrell, Philip White Lewis 3:57

European edition[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Please"   Scott Storch, Makeba Riddick, Vincent Herbert, Kameron Houff Scott Storch 3:57
2. "Trippin' (That's the Way Love Works)"   Bryan-Michael Cox, Kendrick Dean, Johnta Austin, Toni Braxton Bryan-Michael Cox, Keri Lewis, WyldCard 4:05
3. "What's Good"   Cox, Austin, Braxton, Joe Sample Cox, Lewis 4:14
4. "Suddenly"   Richard Marx Richard Marx 4:43
5. "Take This Ring"   Rich Harrison Rich Harrison 4:35
6. "Midnite"   Carsten Schack, Kenneth Karlin, Harold Lilly Soulshock & Karlin 4:11
7. "I Wanna Be (Your Baby)"   Harvey Mason, Jr., Damon Thomas, Kenneth Edmonds, Darrell Simmons The Underdogs, Babyface 3:48
8. "Sposed to Be"   Antonio Dixon, Keri Hilson, Patrick "j.Que" Smith, Mason, Thomas Antonio Dixon 4:07
9. "Stupid"   Cory Rooney, Braxton, Keri Lewis Cory Rooney, Keri Lewis, Dan Shea 3:36
10. "Finally"   Mason, Thomas, Dixon, Eric Dawkins, Durrell Babbs Dixon 3:30
11. "I Hate You"   Mason, Thomas, Babyface, Dixon, Dawkins The Underdogs 4:01
12. "Shadowless"   Alex Cantrell, Philip White Lewis 3:57
13. "Long Way Home"   Schack, Karlin, A. Cantrell, P. "Silky" White Soulshock & Karlin 4:32

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
position
German Albums Chart[11] 60
Swiss Albums Chart[12] 25
U.S. Billboard 200[6] 4
U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[6] 2

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
United States September 27, 2005 Blackground Records
Europe October 21, 2005 Edel Records
June 23, 2006 (re-release)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitmire, Margo (October 5, 2005). "Gretchen Wilson Zooms Straight To No. 1". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  2. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. November 4, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ Mitchell, Gail (April 11, 2011). "Toni Braxton's decade-long record sales slump". Billboard. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Sexiest Album Covers". Maxim. Alpha Media Group Inc. Retrieved January 31, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l K, Jazzy (March 6, 2006). "Toni Braxton: Libra (album review) - Sputnikmusic". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kellman, Andy (September 27, 2005). "Libra - Toni Braxton - Allmusic". Allmusic - Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Cinquemani, Sal (September 24, 2005). "Toni Braxton: Libra - Music Review - Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Jones, Steve (September 26, 2005). "'Jacked Up' Wilson defies stereotypes". USA Today. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Libra Review". Entertainment Weekly: 155. October 14, 2005. 
  10. ^ Arnold, Chuck; Novak, Ralph (October 17, 2005). "Picks and Pans Review: Toni Braxton (Libra)". People. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Musicline.de – Chartverfolgung – Toni Braxton – Libra". Media Control (in German). PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Toni Braxton – Libra". Media Control. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 1, 2010.