Passion Like Fire (to be released September 7, 2018)
Whose passion for R&B burns brighter than Tamia’s?
Just look at her track record – 2018 marks 20 years since her debut, an incredibly seamless record we just honored as one of the best releases of 1998. Since then, her name has been attached to some of the best R&B of the 2000s. In fact, we ranked them all right here.
In an era where R&B is currently suffering from multiple personality disorder – we’re autotuning one day, trappin’ the next – Tamia is the grounded force we need.
That’s why Passion Like Fire, Tamia’s seventh album, has been such an anticipated release among hardcore R&B lovers. There’s no guessing with Tamia – you know exactly the type of music you’re getting on every outing.
No need to worry, y’all, Tamia’s still got the passion.
First single “Leave It Smokin” has been heating up R&B charts, and for good reason. It’s as sultry as it’s catchy – a playfully infectious mid-tempo groove that immediately seduces your ears. When it comes to summer songs for lovers, this is “Boo’d Up” for grown folks.
“Leave It Smokin” is easily the album standout but it’s far from the only winner here. “It’s Yours” is a great case study of an artist adjusting her style with the times yet retaining her artistic integrity. Tamia has no problem adapting to today’s trendy delivery – she’s *thisclose* to sounding like a rapper – but she refuses to sacrifice her vocals to do so. “It’s Yours” wouldn’t sound out of place on urban playlists.
“Lost In You” and “When the Sun” both feel like celebrations of the season – the former boasting guitar licks and finger snaps for that summertime vibe; on the latter Tamia outright tells us how much she loves “when the weather is cooperating” and “we get cute like it’s mandatory.”
Tamia has no problem cutting loose and having some fun, but make no mistake – when its time to show off her instrument, she proves she still one of the best in the game. “Today I Do” has the makings of a new wedding staple, a powerful, heartfelt song about two becoming one. “Deeper” also stands as one of the best vocal performances here, even though the lyrics get a little hackneyed at times. It drifts too close to American Idol territory for my tastes.
There are even a few odes to Tamia’s 90s-era sound. On “Tell Me How,” Tamia comforts a woman who has been betrayed by her lover, while “Not For Long” embodies the same sass and attitude she flaunted way back on songs like “Is That You.”
That’s probably why Passion Like Fire feels like such a love letter to Tamia’s fans. From the power ballads to the sultry singles to the playful odes to love lost and found, it revisits many of the sounds that build her career. I really wish we had a couple of tracks as strong as the lead single (“Its Yours” comes closest) to really set this album apart in Tamia’s renowned catalog.
Twenty years and counting – and that fire is still burning.
Best tracks: “Leave It Smokin,” “It’s Yours,” “Today I Do”
4 stars out of 5