First Hit #1: July 27, 1996
Double A-sides became rare, but then we got two right in a row.
You’re Makin’ Me High isn’t actually that interesting, but it is an example of how ballads in the ’90s had moved. The influence of hip hop was an overall good thing, because it meant that we lost all of the slightly cheesy accouterments that the form had acquired over the years. No swelling strings, no unfortunate cheesy bells littering the soundtrack. It’s got a strong beat and a bit of synthesizer floating around, and it pares it right down to the bone in a refreshing manner. The vocal is the same, Braxton could have been singing this over a string laden backdrop, but because we have moved on to something very different, it gives the song a more appealing texture than it would have if it were recorded ten years before.
Let it Flow is much closer to tradition – it even has a guitar in there – but it’s not quite the same. The instrumentation is a bit more spare, even as it creeps towards tradition it doesn’t embrace it, keeping it much simpler and resisting the urge to push quite as far as some of the big ballads in the previous years. Braxton embraces showy vocals much more fully here than on the other side – You’re Makin’ Me High feels almost casual in comparison, the flirtation before the classy restaurant for the first date – and overall it’s a pleasant evolution of the ballad, and a direction I enjoy.
It also sounds like someone was a big fan of Tracy Chapman.