Review ·

Destiny's Child frontwoman turned solo superstar Beyonce doesn't seem to get much vacation time. Her second solo release, B'Day, was recorded in just two weeks after she wrapped the big-budget film Dreamgirls, and it showcases Beyonce at the top of her game. B'Day is a joyous uptempo album full of vibrant vocals, fierce production, and boundless energy. The only complaint is that it's over too soon.

 

Beyonce is pretty much the dominant force in mainstream R&B today, and with good reason. She's an extremely polished songwriter, singer and performer who delivers the goods every time. B'Day builds on the strengths of her 2003 solo debut, Dangerously in Love, and multiplies them. No one can touch Beyonce on an uptempo track, and the album is packed with some of the best dance tracks of her career, including funky lead single "Déjà Vu" and standouts such as the Rich Harrison-produced "Freakum Dress" and the Neptunes-helmed "Kitty Kat."

 

Musically the album seems to incorporate more of a live sound, the prime example being the '70s-funk-flavored "Suga Mama." Every track has a fresh approach in terms of production, and B'Day will probably raise the bar for R&B production in the coming year. Second single "Ring the Alarm" is evidence of Beyonce's willingness to take chances. The aggressive shouting and rock edge found on the Swizz Beatz production is the last thing anyone would have expected from the superstar diva, and that makes it all the better. The album's tempo drops for closer "Resentment," which is expected, although it would have been nice if Beyonce completely committed to the dance vibe. Still, at only ten tracks, the album feels slightly incomplete. An artist with this level of talent should put at least three more cuts on her album.

 

Beyonce's place at the top was probably solidified at the Grammys two years ago. But with B'Day she continues her winning streak. In the world of contemporary soul, everyone is just catching up to her.

 

***

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Artist: http://www.beyonceonline.com/

Label: http://www.columbiarecords.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/beyonce

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