Brandy is a fine wine that has never quite fully matured. Showing exceptional promise as a teenager, she soon had a hit single, album and TV series in her native United States in the mid-’90s. However, despite holding all the cards to become a genuine superstar in the ultra-competitive R & B genre, Brandy refused to overplay her hand.
She waited a full four years to release her second album, which featured her biggest hit, The Boy Is Mine, and her third came another four years after that. Despite her Olympic ideal, the momentum was lost, and Brandy’s most successful days were behind her.
This Best Of collection (a release no doubt connected to the less than seismic performance of last year’s Afrodisiac) emphasises this analysis. The majority of the tracks are culled from her eponymous debut and second (and best) album Never Say Never, with only four songs from her last two LPs making the cut.
Despite this, Brandy has still scored with strong songs throughout her career by resolutely sticking to singing about two things: the problems of love and the pleasures of love. With her low key, Brandy offers a far more effective and convincing delivery when singing on the trials and tribulations of urban romance, as evidenced on such tracks as That Boy Is Mine or Who Is She To U?.
She is far less convincing when crooning through sultry little numbers like Afrodisiac and Have You Ever. However, Brandy’s predilection for dodgy cover versions sees her really scrape the barrel. Included here are truly awful versions of Rock With You and Another Day In Paradise.
The one stab at something different (apart from a series of uninspiring, tacked on raps) is the hypnotic Timbaland produced What About Us?.
The overall result is a middling collection which ultimately leaves one frequently fast-forwarding, wondering what could have been.