During the decade that followed her split from major-label Elektra, Tamia recorded only two independent albums. Both releases had no trouble peaking in the Top 10 of Billboard's R&B chart, however, and the title track from the latter one, Beautiful Surprise, was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Song. That success led to a new major-label alliance with Epic, who evidently offered a larger recording budget. Beautiful Surprise featured some high-level co-songwriters and producers, but Love Life involves top guns Andrew "Pop" Wansel and Warren "Oak" Felder, as well as Tricky Stewart and the-Dream, to complement material made with collaborators like Claude Kelly, Chuck Harmony, and Shep Crawford. Refreshingly, there are no club jams or theatrical breakup ballads. In fact, there is neither conflict nor negativity of any kind. Ten of the 11 songs regard monogamous intimacy, seduction, and longing, and only a couple of them resemble routine adult contemporary R&B fare. Even some of the most relaxed songs, like the flirty Pop and Oak collaboration "Sandwich and a Soda" and the Polow da Don-produced "Stick with Me," generate steam, and Tamia sounds fully invested in each one without doing any overselling. That 11th song is the finale, a faithful version of "Black Butterfly," the proud Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil composition popularized by Deniece Williams in 1984. Tamia does not to attempt to hit those high notes that Williams and few others have been able to reach, but she gets the feeling across. It's a fine finish to her best album yet.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman