The music on Beautiful (Universal) are said to be taken from the last recording sessions Teena Marie were involved in before she died. The tracks here go back to her Motown-era and has a level of musicality that arguably had not appeared on her last few albums, and yet still sounds like the kind of album she could have recorded today, without too much outside influences. I say this because a lady raps in “Sweet Tooth” that makes this sound like someone you would expect to hear on a Prince album. However, it seems no matter what you’d throw at Marie, she would either welcome it or reject it and make sure it has Marie’s flavor, and that’s exactly what this album does.
This could have been yet another cash-in album where a collection of producers try to make this bigger and bolder than what it is or should be. This is Marie at her finest, maybe the finest she had been musically and vocally, although to her credit she has rarely (if ever) been a let down. Am I saying that Beautiful measures up with some of her best albums? I think if given a bit of time, these mid-tempo tracks and slow jams could easily be destined for accepted greatness. Try not to listen to this as what could have been, but what Marie still had in store, and you’ll find this to be a very enjoyable listen. She seemed to have found comfort and acceptance in herself as a person and artist, enough to offer an album like this. Beautiful stands out as a touching album, and now becomes an unintentional parting gift.