Beautiful Surprise, released six years after Between Friends, closed the gap on the longest wait between Tamia albums. Although it is co-executive produced by Claude Kelly with a mostly fresh list of collaborators that includes Chuck Harmony, Salaam Remi, the Runners, Carvin & Ivan, Luke Laird, Shep Crawford, and even Jermaine Jackson (who co-writes two songs), it won't take any listeners by surprise. The album is split between upbeat but refined contemporary R&B --- as heard on "Lose My Mind" and "Beautiful Surprise," when she channels Deniece Williams more than ever -- and theatrical adult contemporary ballads. As usual for a Tamia album, there's also a cover; this time, it's Wynonna Judd's heartbroken ballad "Is It Why," which is given a faithful treatment. Later on, Tamia covers herself by closing the album with a contemporary country-ish version of "Still," a number 83 R&B single off 2004's More. (Did she have a problem with that harpsichord?) At best, the album is pleasant and especially relatable to those who are enduring or moving beyond relationships. However, few of these songs would be worthy of a concise Tamia best-of compilation. Longtime fans can at least appreciate that Tamia is in fine voice and seems to have made an album free from outside pressure.
Beautiful Surprise Review
by Andy Kellman