There are many songs lovers listen together. Sometimes those songs are memorable and hardly forgotten in our heads and minds no matter the relationships were over or still current.
When I visited my ex’s apartment more than 10 years ago, Tweet’s song was coming from the speaker. It was “Smoking Cigarette” from her first album “Southen Hummingbird”. But I didn’t know that the female vocalist was Tweet.
“Who’s this?” I asked
“Tweet” my ex answered.
“Really? I didn’t know she sings this kinda smooth and comfortable song. I thought her songs were pop songs just like ‘Oops (Oh My)’ which isn’t my type”
My ex laughed. “It’s just prejudice. Most of her songs are just like this, slow, smooth and good”.
I sit down on the bed next to my ex and listened with smoking cigarette together (I don’t smoke anymore). Even Tweet’s voice and “Smoking Cigarette” weren’t actually smokey, the song made us to smoke. I was thinking about the song. Wow, her voice and the song were a really southern hummingbird. The song’s mood was like smoking in the outside porch under one old and a tinted light bulb at the lazy night of summer, like 10 p.m. on July, in Georgia, where I used to live. And its intro perfectly expressed the mood after the rain. Not bluesy, not jazzy, not a ballad, but good acoustic R&B. Slow, smooth, soft, and bright. Then “Best Friend” was out of the speaker. The song’s mood was totally changed to a dark bedroom, even without a candle. Just a blue light through the curtain from outside. We were speechless with hugging together. There was no issue between us at that time. We just wanted to listen to the beautiful song and being on the slow flow from the speaker. Even we were over a long time ago, Tweet was always on my mind.
Tweet’s success didn’t last long. Not only her second album, “It’s Me Again”, couldn’t achieve a successful like the first album, she disappeared for 10 years after the news she cut the tie with Missy Elliot while many R&B artists in the similar situation kept releasing their albums from indies. But I couldn’t forget her. She was so much talented to be a “one hit wonder”. Although the quality of “It’s Me Again” didn’t reach “Southern Hummingbird”, she created many good songs with her originality. It would be so sad if Tweet was forgotten in the world.
Then Tweet’s EP, “Simply Tweet”, was suddenly released in February 2013, without notice and promotion. I knew about the album’s release by Maxwell’s post on Facebook, suggesting his fans to listen “Simply Tweet” with stating “most soulful ever Tweet”. “Simply Tweet” was an “almost” perfect musical product. Her voice, the quality of all songs including intro, the song orders, instrumentals, everything was just perfect. “Simply Tweet” was real tight, consisted of only high-quality songs. Only one thing, the reason I wrote “almost” was the sound quality wasn’t perfect, but others were just beautiful. Especially, “Sorry” could give us tears. With “Simply Tweet”, Tweet proved some important things. First, even Tweet’s voice wasn’t thick and big like Jennifer Hudson and Whitney Houston, her soft, thin, and pretty voice was still very emotional and soulful like her other albums. Second, EP with only 4 songs and an intro didn’t mean lesser quality than a full album. That EP had a much higher quality than the many albums contained more than 13 songs. She also proved that she was a good songwriter who didn’t need Missy Elliot for making wonderful songs. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened “Simply Tweet”. I still listen to the EP a lot.
Finally her first full album in 11 years, “Charlene”, was released on Feb 2016. When I heard about the release of a new single “Won’t Hurt Me” and the new album late last year, I doubted a lot they would really be released. But Tweet came back to the world pretty much as scheduled this time, with nothing-much-changed her beautiful face. Not only because of a long-awaited album, the good quality of “Won’t Hurt Me” made me look forward to her upcoming album.
My first impression of “Charlene”, titled from her real first name, was low-key and sophisticated like classical music and less acoustic than previous “Simply Tweet”. Uptempo songs are only “Somebody Else Will”, featured Missy Elliot, “Neva Shoulda Left Ya”, and “The Hardest Thing” out of 15 songs, and the rest of the songs were slow or low-key. “Charlene” was like returning to the R&B roots rather than trying new things. The fact still keeping all intro, outro, and 2 interludes gave the impression Tweet pursued orthodox R&B with this album while many of recent R&B and hip-hop albums tend to exclude those short songs. Even “Somebody Else Will” collaborated with Missy Elliot and Timbaland, the most pop song on the album, their contributions sounds like minimized behind relatively standard R&B sound although it slightly has some urban beats. That song ends with very slow melody.
Honestly, my initial reaction was the songs included on pre-order and the rest of the songs were very different, and I was a little confused. I thought the songs included on the pre-order, “Magic”, “Won’t Hurt Me”, “Somebody Else Will”, “Neva Should Left Ya”, and “I Was Created for This”, had enough variety for a good quality album, but other songs slowed down the excitement of those 5 songs. There was no bad song on this album, but I thought the album lacked with necessary variety while it would be still important to keep Tweet’s identity. Previous “Simply Tweet” consisted of 5 songs had more impact than “Charlene” with 15 songs.
So I gave a break for a little bit about 5 days and listened to the album again. Probably I expected too much from the near-perfect “Simply Tweet” EP. Or probably I expected too much from the 5 songs I listened when I pre-ordered. When I listened to the whole album again, it was the daytime of a warm spring day in March. Surprise, the whole album matched with peaceful and bright spring weather, the time hummingbirds are active. Previously, I listened to the songs mostly night times. “Charlene” gained color under the warm sunshine even the slow songs. I’m listening to the album at a late night right now, and I’m back to the previous impression of less variety. Under the sunshine, I want to listen to the album with a loved one at a peaceful greenery park, even this album contains some break-up songs. “Charlene” gives me that mood. It might be similar mood when I listen “Southern Hummingbird”, but the difference is “Southern Hummingbird” is more for nighttime while “Charlene” is good for daytime.
Her soft and soulful voice still shines at “Charlene” album. Her voice is always attractive with real guitar strings rather than piano or keyboard, and we can enjoy that attractive part on the new album.
Tweet was finally back again. The fact “Charlene” album debuted at 42 of Billboard Top 200 even the album was released by an indie label means she had many fans waited for her new positive move. Hopefully, she will have a very active year, hopefully with tour, and doesn’t let her fans wait again, including me.
*The source of cover photo: the album booklet of “Charlene” by Tweet.