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Brave ()

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Brave follows Como Ama una Mujer, Jennifer Lopez's first Spanish-language album, by a matter of seven months -- a quick follow-up by any measure, but perhaps one that reflects the lack of buzz Como created. On paper, Brave should be the polar opposite of its immediate predecessor -- it's in English where the other was in Spanish, that album was moody and dramatic, this is light and peppy -- but despite these superficial differences, the two albums have a number of similarities, chief among them that they are the work of a woman settled and happy in her marriage. Jennifer kicks off the album with "Stay Together," an anthem of monogamy where she declares that heartbreak and dating are so passť, that toughing it out is the new trend, and the rest of the record kind of plays off that theme, as nights out on the town are traded for cozy nights at home. While Lopez may have domesticity on her mind, Brave is still a dance album, filled with bright beats and happy hooks, but this isn't music for clubbing, it's dance music for home, maybe background music for some chores. As such, it doesn't sound fresh -- there's nothing that reflects any current dance trends, not even a passing nod at Justin Timberlake's neo-electro or crunk -- it sounds stuck in 1999, when J-Lo released her first album, or perhaps even in 1989, when she was a Fly Girl on In Living Color. It's the sound of a housewife looking back and remembering when things were a bit more carefree -- it's nostalgia, but tempered with happiness, since she's perfectly content with where she's at now. So, Brave is comfortable, it doesn't try too hard, it doesn't have many surprises, but it's cheerful and not without its charms, as it's a throwback that's done without a hint of self-consciousness or irony. It's nothing more than modest music for mellow good times, but it's lively enough to be fleeting fun, with enough good tunes for a mild party, preferably one that's held at home. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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