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Album Review: Tank - "Sex, Love & Pain"

Strong, Yet Sensitive

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Album Review: Tank -

Album cover © Blackground Records.

On his third album, the muscular singer Durrell Babbs (better known by his stage name of Tank) continues to show that a real man can be both strong and sensitive. Like fellow R&B singer Tyrese, Tank represents for all the extra-swollen bodybuilders who aren't afraid to show their feelings.

The album is a drama-filled roller coaster of ballads: love, lust, hate, pain, betrayal and more are explored on the dozen songs here. And Tank's songwriting is top-notch; he has a gift for painting a such a vivid picture with words that if you close you eyes, you can practically see the scenarios that he sings about take place.

Sensual & Sophisticated

The title of Tank's third album, Sex, Love & Pain perfectly sums up the album's content: you've got songs about sex (the remix of the Marvin Gaye-esque "I Love Them Girls"), love ("I Love U") and pain (the album's first single, "Please Don't Go") as well as at least one song that explores all three (the album's opening intro.)

There's also songs that explore other emotions, such as lust, which is dealt with in the song "Coldest," about a girl at the dance club who knows how to shake her thang in low-riding jeans; and the song "My Body," a sophisticated lovemaking slow jam. And the emotions sorrow and remorse are on display on "Please Don't Go," about a man trying to get his woman back after doing her wrong by messing around with other women.

While the mostly midtempo song production is on-point and the lyrics are definitely intelligent and well-thought-out, if there's one thing that continues to hinder Tank after all these years, it's that his voice isn't distinctive enough. Yes, it's strong and can be powerful, but it doesn't stand out; most people still wouldn't recognize him or his voice upon hearing one of his songs for the first time. An R. Kelly song, for instance, is instantly recognizable; but Tank sounds like an cross between Usher, Jamie Foxx and Tyrese, with a little Marvin Gaye thrown in.

If he could manage to break free of his stylistic constraints and create for himself a type of singing that's all his own, then that - along with his fresh, non-cliched songwriting and strong production skills - would make him one of the top male artists in R&B.

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