Radio-friendly albums from pop-R&B singers Toni Braxton and Mya, which feature tracks produced by hitmaker Rodney Jerkins, highlight this week's new releases.
Welcome to VH1 Storytellers, a live collection that includes tracks from pop-rock acts Jewel, Dave Matthews, Lisa Loeb and Sheryl Crow, also is slated for release. (VH1 shares a parent company, Viacom, with sonicnet.com).
Braxton's new album, The Heat, is her first in four years. The singer, known for such hits as "Unbreak My Heart," said earlier this year that she wanted to change her sound and attitude on the new album. "I'm an angry woman on this one," she said, laughing.
That new outlook is reflected on the album's first single, "He Wasn't Man Enough" (RealAudio excerpt), which was produced by Jerkins (Britney Spears, Brandy). "I wanted to give her a new, uptempo, flashy feel," Jerkins said in February. The song is #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
The Heat also includes its share of ballads, such as "Spanish Guitar" and "I'm Still Breathing," both written by veteran composer Diane Warren. Rapper Dr. Dre guests on "Just Be a Man About It," playing the role of a man breaking up with his lover from a pay phone.
The exuberant "Gimme Some" features a rap by TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and the title track is a midtempo summertime jam about making love and mischief on the beach.
The husky-voiced Braxton made her mark with such ballads as "Breathe Again" and "Another Sad Love Song" from her self-titled 1993 debut.
Mya, who will release her second album, Fear of Flying, this week, first gained notice when she sang on the Pras Michel/Ol' Dirty Bastard collaboration "Ghetto Superstar" in 1998. Her eponymous 1998 debut album went double platinum and featured the Babyface-penned hit "My First Night With You."
Her follow-up, Fear of Flying, keeps the dance-floor beats coming, with the Jerkins-produced "That's Why I Wanna Fight" and the album's first single, "The Best of Me" (RealAudio excerpt).
"The Best of Me," Mya said in a statement, is "about setting standards for yourself, about following them through and not allowing the temptations of a heat-of-the-moment situation to lure you into something that you may regret later in life."
The album's 18 tracks also include "Turn It Up," which features stop-start beats and samples of a cooing baby. "Pussycats" employs the sound of mewing cats to similar effect.
Mya's music also has appeared in the Eddie Murphy film "Life" (1999) and the 1998 Nas/ DMX/Method Man movie "Belly" (1998).