Monday, 6 January 2014

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Queen B scores a royal flush with mesmerizing, self-titled latest

BODY OF WORK: The star's album number five showcases an artist at the height of her creative powers.

Anyone who knows me knows that Beyoncé Knowles and I are involved. Our relationships goes all the way back to the early days when she was "jumpin' jumpin" with Destiny's Child and repping hard for all the independent women. She's evolved beautifully since then with grace and high class. One marriage and a daughter, a record-setting 46 Grammy nominations (19 wins included) and five albums later, the Queen B and I are still going strong.

Which brings me to her latest opus, a beautifully crafted self-titled disc that, for me, finds her going back to basics: writing and producing her own music. The result is an open and candid exploration of everything from relationships and sexuality to family and female empowerment, a theme that will heavily characterize Beyoncé's work as long as she is able to release creative output.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that prize-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) was featured on the album (track 11, "Flawless," an anthemic ode to self-love), and her honey-dipped spoken-word contribution does not disappoint. And that's not even the best cut on the 14-track record, a fine balance between slow grooves and mid-tempo jams, airy pop and contemporary R&B-soul.

Best of all are swooning album-opener "Pretty Hurts"; the enchanting come-on "XO"; the slow-burning Drake duet "Mine" and "Blue," a melodically rich dedication to daughter Blue Ivy Carter. A classic Beyoncé record is hardly ever complete sans an appearance by her other half, who turns up with trademark swagger for "Drunk In Love."

I can only say that Beyoncé: The Visual Album, which showcases an artist at the height of her creative powers (even when the occasional lyric falls short of her reputable talent), further establishes the songstress, alongside the likes of Prince and Adele, as an important voice in modern music (and in my secret life). Tyrone's Verdict: A-

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