built her stardom on a few well-timed singles, but she never really delivered albums that fulfilled her promise as a front-woman. Full Moon
, her third album, comes the closest to being a full-fledged, well-rounded album, as well as establishing a personality as a singer. That's not to say this album is as fiercely independent or adventurous as Aaliyah
's last album, or even efforts by Blu Cantrell
, but it's the most assured, risky album Brandy
has yet recorded, the one that suggests that she is more than an appealing young personality who is as effective on record as she is on made-for-TV movies. Full Moon
still has some flaws common to contemporary urban soul records -- namely, it's too lengthy, filled with songs that are just there to ensure that the album runs close to 70 minutes, giving some listeners the impression they're getting more bang for their buck; apart from that, the record can be a little too even-keeled and samey -- but it's professionally performed and expertly pitched at the mainstream, with just enough beats to make it seem fresh, yet those very rhythms are polished but always enough to keep the entire enterprise safe and non-threatening. That, of course, means that Full Moon
is perched perfectly between the interesting and the mundane and is in equal parts either. Since she's pushing slightly harder to be mature, it's a little more mature and consistent than her previous albums, but each step forward feels measured and calculated -- not necessarily a bad thing, but something that's noticeable as the album stretches on and on over its 17 tracks. There are plenty of moments here that are seductively smooth and even the filler goes down smoothly, but when it's finished, Brandy
seems no more distinctive than she did when it started, so it's no wonder that even its triumphs seem muted.