The production is straight-up R&B that's reminiscent of LaFace Records' heyday, reimagined for 2014 and produced under another storied label, Motown. It definitely has Babyface's signature sound all over it, but updated in the greatest way; he's one of the few songwriters and producers that can adapt with the times and not lose what made him HIM in the process. AAAND, it features REAL INSTRUMENTS! Don't get me wrong, I love a great sample and I know producers who solely rely on a mixing console (the big, loooong table thingy with buttons and knobs and s*** you see Dr. Dre posed at a lot) & a beat machine (a much smaller version of a console with big square buttons...you like my technical terms, right?) can make magic, but to music connoisseurs and music geeks, it's just not the same. Some of my favorite productions on LM&D include: "Roller Coaster" (I don't know why, but the very beginning of it gives me of Kool & The Gang's "Summer Madness" tease), "Sweat" sounds like a breezy interpolation of Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TKO", and the music from "I'd Rather Be Broke" sounds sooo familiar that it's kinda driving me crazy that I can't remember what song it reminds me of for this review...UGH!!
Speaking of authenticity, I haven't heard Toni ENUNCIATE this clearly since her second album, Secrets and sing believable lyrics (coming from her) since The Heat! None of her vocals sound forced, as though she's singing something that was written for a 20-something aritst and I love that! One of her solo tracks on LM&D, "I Wish", is the more mature version of Marsha Ambrosius' "I Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player)" [Note: That's not shade in the least bit because I love the S*** out of Marsha AND her song, I'm just keeping it 100! REAL shade is when the singer Patti Austin said that Toni sounded like she "went to Anita Baker's School of Mumbling"...that's two, two, TWO SHADES IN ONE! Actually, that was more of a shady read, but I digress!]; instead of semi-petty worse case scenarios that all but flat out say 'N****, I hope you DIE!' displayed in "I Hope She Cheats...", Toni calmly says lines like, 'I hope she gives you a disease, so that you will see/but not enough for you to die, but only enough to make you cry like you did me'...see the difference? Really, the lyrics throughout the whole album are excellent! They're conversational like great duets should be, filled with completely thought out sentences or phrases ('For I so loved you, girl/that I gave you all my love...' on "Where Did We Go Wrong", which reminded me of the turns of phrase throughout classic 90s R&B songs such as Guy's "I Like" (a line like 'It's you, to whom which I belong' wouldn't be in mainstream R&B today)) and they tell fully realized stories, in comparison to the short, borderline stream-of-consciousness ramblings that currently go on far too often in pop-R&B today.
I must admit, I was excited and nervous at the same time about what Toni and Babyface would bless us with, but I'm pleased to say that I loved this album. It's been a while since R&B has sounded untouched by Hip-Hop and I've missed that. On another note, for those that feel as though all this album was missing was 'one more up-tempo song', that need is fulfilled with the deluxe edition that features "Let's Do It", plus a slower, future wedding staple "One". If you didn't get that version from Target, I feel bad for you because the awesomeless that is Love, Marriage & Divorce will sound like it ended too quickly otherwise! Grown folks R&B, for the win!
Play on repeat: "Sweat", "I Hope That You're Okay", "I'd Rather Be Broke" (this song right HERE is the reason there's a 'Real Talk Moment' category, good lawd!!), "Heart Attack", *"Let's Do It"
Skip & save yourself some time: If you skip a track on Love Marriage & Divorce, Autotune wins.
Real Talk moment(s): "Roller Coaster", "Where Did We Go Wrong", "I Wish" (I cackled my butt off when I heard the 'I hope she give you a disease...but not enough for you to die' line!), "Take It Back", "The D Word"
Listenable Status (based on # of tracks): 12 out of 13 (LM&D would've gotten 13/13 but there were two tracks that got half a point, ONLY because I just 'liked' them and didn't love them!)