Full Moon (Brandy album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||March 5, 2002|
|Singles from Full Moon|
Full Moon is the third studio album by American R&B recording artist Brandy. It was released by Atlantic Records on March 5, 2002. The album was recorded primarily during the summer and fall of 2001 at The Hit Factory in Miami, amid a three-year musical hiatus following the success of her multi-platinum previous studio album Never Say Never (1998) and the finale of her highly successful television sitcom Moesha in May 2001. As with Never Say Never, Brandy collaborated with producer Rodney Jerkins and his Darkchild production and songwriting team on the majority of the album's composition, while additional work from Mike City, Warryn Campbell, and Keith Crouch was contributed.
Brandy credited Whitney Houston, Kim Burrell and Enya for inspiring her to push the limits of her voice and vocal arrangements. Jerkins credited Michael Jackson, Brandy's voice, and his experiences at European nightclubs for influencing the sound of the album. Her prior relationship and then-private relationship with Darkchild in-house producer Big Bert inspired the lyrics and song concepts. Musically, Full Moon drew inspiration from UK garage, electro, dance, glitch, and funktronica, while blending soul and R&B elements into adult contemporary ballads.
At the time of its release, the album received mixed reviews from music critics, but has since earned retrospective acclaim and recognition from musicians, singers, and producers, primarily for Brandy's vocal work. The album became Brandy Norwood's highest-charting album, as well as garnering two Grammy Award nominations including Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony. Full Moon debuted at number one on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and at number two on the Billboard 200, selling approximately 156,000 copies in its first week of release, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. The album spawned three singles—"What About Us?", "Full Moon" and "He Is".
In June 1998, Norwood released her second album Never Say Never. Boosted by the success of its number-one lead single "The Boy Is Mine", a duet with singer Monica, it facilitated Norwood in becoming a viable recording artist with media–crossing appeal. In total, the album sold 16 million copies worldwide and spawned seven singles, including Norwood's second number-one song, the Diane Warren-penned "Have You Ever?". Also in 1998, Norwood made her big screen debut in a supporting role in the slasher sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, which garnered her both a Blockbuster Entertainment Award and an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Breakthrough Female Performance. The following year, she co-starred with Diana Ross in the telefilm drama Double Platinum about an intense, strained relationship between a mother and daughter. Both Norwood and Ross served as executive producers of the movie which features original songs from Never Say Never and Ross's Every Day Is a New Day (1999).
Amid the sudden cancellation of her UPN sitcom Moesha, Norwood suffered a nervous breakdown in November 1999 — the result of her then-hectic and unhealthy lifestyle and a failed relationship in which she had experienced emotional abuse. Frightened by the idea that a yet-to-be-made third album would not be able to live up to the success of her previous albums, Norwood went on a lengthy hiatus to reflect and take some introspective looks. "I needed to rejuvenate, get my creative juices flowing, balance my life with some privacy, to find my confidence, find my love of music again," she told Jet magazine in 2002. In mid-2000, she started refocusing herself on her musical career, contributing songs to albums such as Urban Renewal (2001) and the Osmosis Jones soundtrack (2001), which introduced a scratchy, evocative edge to Norwood's voice, now having a deeper and warmer tone with a textured lower register and notably stronger falsetto.
In fall 2000, Norwood finally began conceiving ideas for a third studio album with the Atlantic label. While Rodney Jerkins, the main producer of her previous album, and his Darkchild crew, including Fred Jerkins III and LaShawn Daniels, had been working on several new songs for the singer's upcoming project in hopes of recreating the winning chemistry of Never Say Never, Norwood wanted to make sure that she was gaining more creative control over the project and thus, arranged meetings with all her writers and musicians to discuss the lyricals topics and sounds she wanted for the album. "I was involved from A-Z," she said. "Every song on the album was inspired by my life [...] I wanted to talk about how I feel on so many levels. I wanted to be in touch with all of my emotions and share them. I've taken three years off for myself and got a chance to find things I like to do, things I don't like and things I want to change about myself."
While Jerkins maintained his status as the album's executive producer, contributing most to its track listing with his team, Norwood also worked with regular collaborators Mike City and Keith Crouch, as well as Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, Stuart Brawley, Jason Derlatka, and Jerkin's cousin Robert "Big Bert" Smith, with whom she became romantically involved during the project. In addition, she also recorded with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo from The Neptunes. With Norwood fearing that the pair's material would not fit the concept of the album and break her type of production unit, it was left unused however. Rapper Ja Rule, singer Babyface and production duo Soulshock & Karlin were reportedly also involved into the project but none of their songs eventually made the album's final track listing.
Though Norwood has acknowledged that the creative focus of the album was very much on its technical realization and its sound, she declared Full Moon a concept album based on the development of a male-female relationship: "It's definitely the concept for the album —me falling in love, then going through some turbulence, and then, at the end, I find the person that I really want to be with— so it's a great concept and it's a great experience that I had. I found out a lot about myself. I found a lot out about love, and I'm just happy to have that reflect in my music." Accounting the last three years of her life, Norwood decided to name the album after its title track, stating: "I have done a complete circle and I feel whole. All of that's reflected in the music. That's why I entitled [my album] Full Moon. It's a concept album, it's autobiographical. Everything that I've gone through in the last three years is reflected." The album was originally set to be released on November 20, 2001, but plans were scrapped.
The first song is the title track "Full Moon", producer Mike City's only contribution to the album. A piano-dominated up-tempo song, Norwood characterised it as urban contemporary, explaining that "Full Moon" is "pop and R&B at the same time [but] has a lot of elements to it." Lyrically, the song deals with a love at first sight during a full moon night. "I Thought", a Jerkins-crafted song about female empowerment, features electro bass lines and crunchy drums that "propels [it] away from the traditional R&B sound in to a new arena," according to Christian Hopwood of BBC Music. Jerkins described it as an "anthem [and] a flip off of "The Boy Is Mine".
Fourth track, “When You Touch Me", a ballad, revolves around the planning of a rendezvous. The album’s following track, “Like This” sees Brandy continue to discuss her intimate desires with her lover. On "All in Me", a "futuristically funked-out" record according to MTV News, Brandy pleads with her lover to have faith in her, promising him that she'll provide whatever he needs. Producer Rodney Jerkins decided on the inclusion of a 2-step groove section during the middle of the song, following a gig in London months before where he was inspired by artists like Craig David and Artful Dodger.
"It's Not Worth It" finds Brandy trying to hold her relationship together after it has deteriorated to shambles. Initially penned in 1999, Jerkins built the song around Michael Jackson's ad-libbed vocals, resulting from a joint recording sessions for Jackson's 2001 studio album Invincible. "He Is", the next song, is a love song with a classy piano and sparse drum track; speaking about God in third person, Norwood was unaware, the song was secretly conceptualized as a gospel song by its writers.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Although Full Moon was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards, media reception for the album was generally mixed. The album has a score of 60 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Craig Seymour of Entertainment Weekly gave Full Moon an A− rating, saying that "where [Rodney] Jerkins' herky-jerky stylings come off cold on Jacko's latest, they embolden 23-year-old Brandy as she learns the difference between teen heartbreak and grown-up betrayal, [suggesting] maturity and the high price that often comes with it." Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic was critical with the album's length of over 70 minutes but considered it Norwood's most assured, risky album yet, stating: "Full Moon comes the closest to being a full-fledged, well-rounded album, as well as establishing a personality as a singer [...] There are plenty of moments here that are seductively smooth and even the filler goes down smoothly." He gave the album four out of five stars.
Slant Magazine writer Sal Cinquemani rated the album three stars out of five and compared it to Janet Jackson's 1986 album Control, commenting: "For the most part, Full Moon is certainly a forward-minded album, lifting Brandy's typically schmaltzy brand of pop-R&B to a new, edgier plateau [...] The all-grown-up Miss Moesha seems to be making her final transition from sitting up in her room to sitting on top of the world." Billboard magazine praised Full Moon for its ballads and the leading single but was unsatisfied with the album as a whole, stating that "those expecting more from the same [as "What About Us?"] will be disappointed, it's a fairly paint-by-numbers affair." Devon Thomas, writer for The Michigan Daily, was generally disappointed with the album. He said that "heavily producer-driven, the album follows the template that catapulted her sophomore album to multi-platinum status. The tradition (or condition) continues on her junior outing, [which] exhibits the same ole Jerkins production we've heard time and time before, just slightly altered (or "updated") and equipped." Critical with mainstream R&B in general, he further summed: "We know it'll be another hit, another platinum plaque for the Moe-ster, but will this album go down on any 'Best of the Decade' lists? Highly unlikely." Rolling Stone dismissed the album as "frantic, faceless, fake-sexy R&B." In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating.
In the United States, Full Moon debuted on top of the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at number two on the Billboard 200 in the issue dated March 13, 2002, marking her highest debut on both charts yet. Selling approximately 155,000 copies in its first week of release, the album fell short of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack (2000) by less than 4,000 copies. Spending thirty weeks on the latter chart, the album shifted about 700,000 copies within the first three months of its release in the United States, and was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for more than 1.1 million sold units. In addition, the album peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Top Internet Albums chart.
In Canada, the album reached number eight, and was certified gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipment of 50,000 copies. In the United Kingdom, Full Moon became Norwood's first top ten album, debuting and peaking at number nine on the UK Albums Chart. It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 100,000 copies. While the album entered the top twenty on the majority of the charts it appeared on, it also reached the top ten in Germany and Switzerland where it became her highest-charting album to date.
Influence and legacy
Although initially receiving mixed reviews from critics upon release, Full Moon has since garnered retrospective recognition from musicians, singers, and producers, particularly within the contemporary R&B and urban contemporary gospel genres. The album is often cited as inspiration for singers due to Norwood's vocal nuances and arrangements. Singers Chris Brown, Kierra Sheard, Lil Mo, Mary Mary, and Tank among many others often reference the vocal work as influential.
Songwriter Sean Garrett credits the vocal work on the album for his approach to writing, saying "I take a lot from what [Brandy] and Rodney did on the Full Moon album. I was extremely impressed with it and I always try to outdo that album". B.Slade spoke of the album, commenting Full Moon single-handedly changed the vocal game. "It has been the template for vocal choices and background vocal arrangements [for years]." R&B singer Melanie Fiona, especially admired the singer's work on that album, dubbing Norwood the "Harmony Queen". Neo soul singer India.Arie often cites the album, particularly the song "He Is" as being the template for a wide array of singers." The oft-praised vocal work on the album sparked the idea of Norwood gaining the subjective nickname the "vocal bible". Canadian R&B singer Keshia Chanté credited the album for inspiring her writing for her album Night & Day, while American singer Luke James referred to Full Moon as the "bible" of 2000s contemporary R&B, calling it the "blueprint of how to do vocals." British soul performer Daley paid included a cover version of the album cut "When You Touch Me" on his Dayley, Unplugged tour; the song was also paid tribute to in Gospel form by Sunday Best artist Y'anna Crawley. German pop singer Rüdiger Skoczowsky, who cites Brandy as one of his main vocal inspirations, included a cover of "Love Wouldn't Count Me Out" on some of his live shows.
|Full Moon – Standard edition|
|2.||"Full Moon"||Mike City||4:08|
|4.||"When You Touch Me"||5:43|
|6.||"All in Me"||4:00|
|9.||"What About Us?"||4:10|
|12.||"It's Not Worth It"||4:23|
|14.||"Come a Little Closer"||4:32|
|15.||"Love Wouldn't Count Me Out"||4:19|
|North American bonus track|
|17.||"Die Without You" (with Ray J)||Attrell Cordes||3:56|
|European bonus track|
|17.||"Another Day in Paradise" (with Ray J)||Phil Collins||Guy Roche||4:32|
|Australian bonus tracks|
|17.||"Another Day in Paradise" (with Ray J)||Collins||Roche||4:32|
|18.||"I Wanna Fall in Love"||3:52|
|Japanese bonus tracks|
|17.||"Another Day in Paradise" (with Ray J)||Collins||Roche||4:32|
|18.||"I Wanna Fall in Love"||3:52|
|19.||"Full Moon" (Cutfather & Joe Remix)||City||4:08|
- Lori Andrews – strings
- Larry Gold – cello
- Edward Green – strings
- Gerald Heyward – drums
- Jubu – guitar
- Suzie Katayama – conductor
- Lila Kazakova – strings
- Kimbo – violin
- Eugene Mechtovich – strings
- Patrick Morgan – strings
- Michele Nardone – strings
- Isaac Phillips – guitar
- Robin Ross – strings
- Marston Smith – strings
- Thomas Tally – strings
- Charles Veal, Jr. – strings
- Zheng Wang – strings
- Joe "Flip" Wilson – piano
- Tibor Zelig – strings
- Yihuaw Zhao – strings
- Aaron Fishbein – guitars on "It's Not Worth It"
- Michael Jackson – backing vocals on "It's Not Worth It"
- Rodney Jerkins – executive producer
- Craig Kallman – executive producer
- Brandy Norwood – executive producer, vocal producer, A&R
- Ron Shapiro – executive producer
- Ray-J – vocal assistance
- Joe Lewis Thomas – vocal assistance
- Michael Jackson – vocal assistance
- David Campbell – string arrangements, conducting
- Jim Bottari – engineer
- Stuart Brawley – engineer
- Reginald Dozier – engineer
- Jan Fairchild – engineer
- Thor Laewe – engineer
- Michael "Wolf" Reaves – engineer
- J.D. Andrew – assistant engineer
- Kenneth B. Hertz – assistant engineer
- Michael Huff – assistant engineer
- Marc Stephen Lee – assistant engineer
- Steve Robillard – assistant engineer
- Javier Valverde – assistant engineer
- Jon Gass – mixing
- Brad Gilderman – mixing
- Manny Marroquin – mixing
- Dave Pensado – mixing
- Dexter Simmons – mixing
- Tom Coyne – mastering
- Andrew Feigenbaum – A&R
- Craig Kallman – A&R
- Thomas Bricker – design, art director
- Marc Baptiste – photography
Certifications and sales
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
|Europe||February 25, 2002||Standard||Atlantic|
|Canada||March 5, 2002|
|France||March 26, 2002|
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