Release Date: Dec 9, 2008
Record label: Epic
Brandy Norwood was last heard pondering her future in music on her excellent 2004 album Afrodisiac - so her return, after a four-year hiatus that saw her involved in a car crash, is a surprise. Human is a thoughtful, intimate work on which Norwood sings movingly about fragility and fear. "Play me a song about heartache - I swear I can sing every word," she pleads on Piano Man.
Brandy, where were you a few months back? At that time, the Top 40 fans among us were so finished kissing a girl and were besieged by some Pussycat Doll atrocity. A frothy confection of pop like this one would have been manna. Unfortunately, it’s a few months later, and Human will be the third holiday buy for mainstream-music fans, behind Beyoncé’s and Pink’s superior, more original albums.
Human's release marked the longest wait between Brandy albums, if only by a few months, and it's easy to understand why. After Afrodisiac's June 2004 release, Brandy dropped her manager, left Atlantic, broke off an engagement, was a judge on America's Got Talent, got into a car accident that caused the death of a driver, and signed with Epic (possibly in that order). Issued a few months prior to facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the husband of the woman who died in the accident, Human is easily the most platitudinal Brandy album, but it is no less compelling for it, even when blocking out the complicated context of the singer's personal life.