This closing track from Face’s breakthrough album, Tender Lover, is the anti-power ballad power ballad and probably one of the greatest songs he’s ever written and recorded. It has all the hallmarks of a great Face song, but with none of the melodrama and soulless “phoning it in-ness” of his post-Waiting To Exhale work. This is the case because of the one trait that Babyface possesses in spades that few of his other contemporaries do — perfect phrasing.
This song should be a master class in how to approach a song as a vocalist. Every moment in the song is so perfectly, expertly performed that its quite surprising that the song is still so damn affecting. The vocalizing at the end is so precise, but it feels the way it should — like an emotional release. Few vocalists can be so specific and yet sound fresh and spontaneous. It’s a real gift.
Babyface has never really been given his due as a solo artist, but Tender Lover is an overlooked classic of the late-80s black music renaissance.
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