From the sounds of Love Life, Tamia’s latest album, she and husband, former NBA star Grant Hill, have found the silver bullet to keeping the fire burning in what appears to be a sweet sixteenth year of marriage. Tamia, who wrote or co-wrote more than half of the album's tracks, composes songs that read like a series of intimate, and at times seductive and steamy, letters crafted for her long-time hubby.
Love Life marks nearly 20 years of Tamia’s music on the Billboard charts and her highest charting album ever on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Her sixth studio album and first on Def Jam, Love Life was brought to life with the help of producers like the duo Pop & Oak who've worked with the likes of Jason Derulo, Jessie J and Mayer Hawthorne.
Love Life’s tracklist reads something like the portrait of a happy home, and if there is any truth to Tamia’s songwriting, Grant Hill is one happy man. Love Life’s lead single “Sandwich and a Soda” is one of the strongest and catchiest songs on the album, grounded in a funky guitar riff and organ loop, it’s where the instrumentation and songwriting come together best. She sings, “And when it’s all over / I’ma fluff your pillow, baby / Bring you a sandwich and a soda.” Again, Grant Hill is winning at life.
"Sandwich and a Soda" highlights the narrative thread that runs through the album, that in the midst of marriage's ups and downs, balancing kids and career she remains not only satisfied but enamored with and motivated to please her partner. This theme is woven throughout the album but is most potently felt on “Lipstick,” “Chaise Lounge” and “Nowhere.”
Love Life characterizes vibrant sensuality in the context of a seasoned marriage in a way that’s accessible and grounded in reality. In a world where a marriage between a pop singer and former NBA player sounds like a recipe for a dysfunctional reality TV relationship, Mrs. Hill give us an authentic ideal as opposed to a ratchet melodrama, shattering stereotypes that married loving is somehow lesser loving.
In addition to exploring her passionate side, Tamia reaches into different emotions and more complex themes on tracks like, "Stuck With Me," the piano driven ballad “Day One” and certainly delivers on the jazzy R&B-tinged remake of Deniece William's “Black Butterfly.”
Sonically, Love Life satisfies the appetite of the pop-R&B purist, with a healthy mix of mid- to slow-tempo tracks not trying to bend and blend genres for experimentation sake. Tamia's latest work paints a vivid picture of a mature love built to last, reflecting a passion not abated by time but strengthened by it. Underlying the album is the idea that marriage and family don't neutralize the potency of romantic affection. Done right, they make it stronger.