Tamar Braxton

Winter Loversland

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Thirteen years passed between Tamar Braxton's first and second solo albums, but Winter Loversland -- released in November 2013 -- followed the latter by only a couple months. It's a brief Christmas album, only 30 minutes in length, in which Braxton covers a lot of familiar ground ("Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Silent Night," etc.) yet puts forth maximum effort. In some cases, the amount of energy exerted is greater than what's required -- most audibly so on an a cappella update of "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" that features Trina Braxton and dollops of melisma. "Sleigh Ride" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" get traditional vocal arrangements with contemporary beats, while some songs -- like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," including an undeniably stunning closing note, and a serious "Santa Baby" -- are played straight. A medley of "Away in a Manger" and "Little Drummer Boy," apart from what sounds like light fingersnaps, is all vocals as well, more an impressive showcase for Braxton's talent and versatility than anything else. Braxton co-wrote the album's lone original, a ballad titled "She Can Have You." Nearly suitable for everyday listening, it's basically a breakup song with Christmas mentioned three times.

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