The cover of Babyface's first album in two-and-a-half years, A Love Story, depicts the sultry singer in white pajamas reclining on the edge of a bed while a girl in panties and a flimsy top leans against a wall. The suggestive image is a little misleading. Sure, Babyface is still all about pillow talk and bedtime embraces, but the lover man is putting the focus on love instead of sex.
"Unfortunately, where music has gone these days, it's really more about sex than it is about intimacy [for a lot of artists]," Babyface said. "It would be nice to see us get back to being in love and being intimate as opposed to just having sex."
A Love Story, which comes out March 23, is a concept album that chronicles a passionate relationship from beginning to end. The R&B crooner based the plot on a combination of personal stories and friends' experiences. But although he knew what he wanted to sing about, it took him a while to get the material down.
"I did about three albums' worth before I got it right," he said. "I did two full albums of the same concept and threw them away; then I finally came up with this third one that I liked."
Babyface wrote most of the final version of A Love Story alone in Lake Tahoe, California, last year. Being by himself allowed him to tap into the solitary vibe he wanted to express with some of the songs, including the first single, "The Loneliness."
"It's about the point in a relationship when she's gone, and you're left there by yourself, and you realize that maybe you lost the best thing you ever had in your life," he said. "I really wanted to communicate just how lonely that feeling is."
Other song titles include: "The Getting 2 Know U," "Makin' Love," "Wish I Could Tell You" and "Still My Boo." Some tracks are flavored with jazzy elements and include samples of licks by John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. "There's one song called 'Together Forever' where I actually used the Glenn Miller song 'Moonlight Serenade' as a backdrop and rewrote things on top of it," Babyface said. "It's got a real 1940s vibe to it."