Both Sides

The Braxton Brothers

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Both Sides Review

by Alex Henderson

Some independent labels work very hard to establish an identity, and the Concord-distributed Peak Records is obviously such a label. The Peak sound, in a nutshell, is very quiet storm -- NAC/smooth jazz meets urban adult contemporary. Peak is obviously going after the sort of listener who has a lot of Anita Baker and Luther Vandross in his/her collection but also listens to Grover Washington, Jr. and David Sanborn. That isn't to say that all of Peak's releases are as creative as those artists' best work -- the company's releases have ranged from decent to forgettable. Released in 2002, the Braxton Brothers' Both Sides is quite faithful to Peak's quiet storm history. This CD ranges from vocal-oriented urban/adult contemporary tracks to urban-minded NAC/smooth jazz instrumentals along the lines of Najee and the late George Howard. In fact, saxman Wayne Braxton (who is half of the Braxton Brothers) sounds like he has spent a lot of time listening to players like Najee, Howard, Dave Koz, and Kenny G (all of whom were heavily influenced by Washington but have, for the most part, lacked his creativity). Most of the material is forgettable and pedestrian, but there are a few noteworthy tracks here and there. The best track is "Better Than Nothing?," a laid-back urban contemporary item that features female singer Ledisi. The tune is about staying in a relationship with a loser because, after all, isn't a bad relationship better than nothing? The answer, of course, is no, and "Better Than Nothing?" rightly concludes that being alone is preferable to being mistreated. The funky "Do You Like It" is also decent but, for the most part, Both Sides is an album of forgettable background music.

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