Full Moon is Brandy's third studio album.
It was released on Atlantic Records on March 5, 2002.
The album was recorded primarily during the summer and fall of 2001 at The Hit Factory in Miami amid a three-year musical hiatus following the success of Brandy's sophomore album "Never Say Never" and the finale of her tv sitcom "Moesha" in May of 2001.
As with "Never Say Never," Brandy collaborated with producer Rodney Jerkins and his Darkchild production and songwriting team on the majority of the album's composition, while additional work from Mike City, Warryn Campbell and Keith Crouch was contributed.
Brandy credited her musical idol Whitney Houston as well as jazz gospel singer Kim Burrell and Irish singer Enya for inspiring her to push the limits of her voice and vocal arrangements.
With Brandy in a relationship with one of the album's primary musicians, its lyrical concepts centered around both sensual and frustrated feelings toward a lover.
Rodney Jerkins (who had then-recently completed extensive work on Michael Jackson's final album "Invincible") credited Michael Jackson, Brandy's voice and his experiences at European nightclubs for influencing the sound of the album.
Musically, the album drew inspiration from UK garage and funktronica while blending jazz and gospel elements into adult contemporary ballads.
At the time of the album's release, it received mixed reviews from music critics, with many of them finding the more sexual lyrics awkward and the production too digitized.
The album has since earned retrospective acclaim and recognition from musicians, singers, and producers within the contemporary R&B, soul and gospel genres, primarily for Brandy's vocal work.
After the end of her promotional touring for the "Never Say Never" album, the cancellation of "Moesha" and various tabloid headlines discussing Brandy's nervous breakdown (which was the result of a failed relationship and her then-hectic & unhealthy lifestyle), Brandy went on a lengthy hiatus to reflect and take some introspective looks.
According to Brandy in an interview with Jet magazine in 2002:
"I needed to rejuvenate, get my creative juices flowing, balance my life with some privacy, to find my confidence, find my love of music again."
In mid-2000, she started reconstructing herself on her musical career, contributing songs to albums such as "Urban Renewal" and the soundtrack to the film "Osmosis Jones" which introduced a scratchy, evocative edge to Brandy's voice which now has a deeper and warmer tone with a textured lower register and notably stronger falsetto.
In the fall of 2000, Brandy finally began conceiving ideas for a third studio album with the Atlantic label.
While Rodney Jerkins (the main producer of her previous album) and his Darkchild crew (including Fred Jerkins III and LaShawn Daniels) had been working on several new songs for Brandy's upcoming project.
In hopes of recreating the winning chemistry of "Never Say Never," Brandy wanted to make sure that she was gaining more creative control over the project and thus, she arranged meetings with all her writers & musicians to discuss the lyricals topics and sounds she wanted for the album.
According to Brandy:
"I was involved from A-Z. Every song on the album was inspired by my life [...] I wanted to talk about how I feel on so many levels. I wanted to be in touch with all of my emotions and share them. I've taken three years off for myself and got a chance to find things I like to do, things I don't like and things I want to change about myself."
While Rodney maintained his status as the album's executive producer, contributing most to its track listing with his team, Brandy also worked with producers Mike City, Keith Crouch, Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, Stuart Brawley, Jason Derlatka and Rodney's cousin Robert "Big Bert" Smith (whom Brandy became romantically involved with during the project).
In addition, Brandy also recorded with Babyface, and production duos Soulshock & Karlin and The Neptunes, but none of their songs made the album's final tracklisting.
Rapper Ja Rule was reportedly also involved into the project.
Even though Brandy has acknowledged that the creative focus of the album was very much on its technical realization and its sound, she declared the album a concept album based on the development of a male-female relationship, stating:
"It's definitely the concept for the album —me falling in love, then going through some turbulence, and then, at the end, I find the person that I really want to be with— so it's a great concept and it's a great experience that I had. I found out a lot about myself. I found a lot out about love, and I'm just happy to have that reflect in my music."
Accounting the last three years of her life, Brandy decided to name the album after its title track, stating:
"I have done a complete circle and I feel whole. All of that's reflected in the music. That's why I entitled [my album] Full Moon. It's a concept album, it's autobiographical. Everything that I've gone through in the last three years is reflected."
The album was originally set to be released on November 20, 2001, but the plans were scrapped.
The album opens with its title track (produced by Mike City which is his only contribution to the album).
Brandy characterised the song as urban contemporary, explaining that it is "pop and R&B at the same time [but] has a lot of elements to it."
Lyrically, the song deals with a love at first sight during a full moon night.
The song "I Thought" (produced by Rodney Jerkins) is about female empowerment & features electro bass lines and crunchy drums that "propels [it] away from the traditional R&B sound in to a new arena" according to Christian Hopwood of BBC Music.
Rodney described it as an "anthem [and] a flip off of "The Boy Is Mine."
Fourth track "When You Touch Me," a ballad, revolves around the planning of a rendezvous.
On the song "All in Me" (which according to MTV News is a a "futuristically funked-out" record), Brandy pleads with her lover to have faith in her, promising him that she'll provide whatever he needs.
Producer Rodney Jerkins decided on the inclusion of a two-step groove section during the middle of the song, following a gig in London, England months before where he was inspired by artists like Craig David and Artful Dodger.
"It's Not Worth It" finds Brandy trying to hold her relationship together after it has deteriorated to shambles.
Initially penned in 1999, Rodney built the song around Michael Jackson's ad-libbed vocals, resulting from a joint recording sessions for Michael's 2001 studio album "Invincible."
The output of which was not released by Michael, but it was also used on Rodney's track "Ride with Me" from his instrumental album "Versatility."
- B-Rocka Intro (1:19) (witten by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III, Rodney Jerkins, Nora Payne & Kenisha Pratt; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- Full Moon (4:09) (written & produced by Mike City)
- I Thought (4:29) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III & Rodney Jerkins; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- When You Touch Me (5:43) (written by Rodney Jerkins, Nora Payne, Kenisha Pratt & Robert Smith; produced by Rodney Jerkins & Big Bert)
- Like This (4:32) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III, Rodney Jerkins & Brandy Norwood; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- All in Me (4:00) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins II & Rodney Jerkins; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- Apart (4:27) (written by Keith Crouch & Kenisha Pratt; produced by Keith Crouch, Kamillion & Brandy Norwood)
- Can We (4:43) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Alex Greggs & Rodney Jerkins; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- What About Us? (4:10) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Brandy Norwood, Nora Payne & Kenisha Pratt; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- Anybody (4:55) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III, Rodney Jerkins, Brandy Norwood & Kenisha Pratt; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- Nothing (4:48) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III & Kenisha Pratt; produced by Uncle Freddie)
- It's Not Worth It (4:23) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins II & Rodney Jerkins; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- He Is (4:21) (written by Warryn Campbell, Harold Lilly Jr. & Brandy Norwood; produced by Warryn Campbell & Brandy Norwood)
- Come a Little Closer (4:32) (written by Stuart Brawley & Jason Derlatka; produced by Rodney Jerkins, Stuart Brawley & Jason Derlatka)
- Love Wouldn't Count Me Out (4:19) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins II, S. Johnson & Brandy Norwood; produced by Uncle Freddie)
- Wow (4:19) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Brandy Norwood, Nora Payne, Kenisha Pratt & Robert Smith; produced by Big Bert & Brandy Norwood)
European\Oceanic Bonus Track
- Another Day in Paradise (feat. Ray J) (4:32) (written by Phil Collins; produced by Guy Roche)
Japanese Bonus Tracks
- Another Day in Paradise (feat. Ray J) (4:32)
- I Wanna Fall in Love (3:52) (written by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Brandy Norwood & Kenisha Pratt; produced by Rodney Jerkins)
- Full Moon (Cutfather & Joe Remix) (4:08) (produced by Cutfather & Joe)
North American Bonus Track
- Die Without You (feat. Ray J) (3:56) (written by Attrell Cordes; produced by Big Bert) (cover version of P.M. Dawn's 1992 song)
In the United States, "Full Moon" debuted on top of the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at number two on the Billboard 200 on the issue dated March 13, 2002, marking her highest debut on both charts yet.
Selling approximately 155,000 copies in its first week of release, the album fell short of the soundtrack for the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" by less than 4,000 copies.
Spending thirty weeks on the latter chart, the album shifted about 700,000 copies within the first three months of its release in the United States and was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for more than 1.1 million sold units.
In addition, the album peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Top Internet Albums chart.
In Canada, the album reached number eight and was certified gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipment of 50,000 copies.
In the United Kingdom, the album became Brandy's first top ten album, debuting and peaking at number nine on the UK Albums Chart.
It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 100,000 copies.
While the album entered the top twenty on the majority of the charts it appeared on, it also reached the top ten in Germany and Switzerland where it became her highest-charting album to date.
Although "Full Moon" was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary R&B Album" at the 2003 Grammy Awards, media reception for the album was generally mixed.
The album so far has a score of 60 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "mixed or average reviews."
Craig Seymour of Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A− rating, saying that "where [Rodney] Jerkins' herky-jerky stylings come off cold on Jacko's latest, they embolden 23-year-old Brandy as she learns the difference between teen heartbreak and grown-up betrayal, [suggesting] maturity and the high price that often comes with it."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic was critical with the album's length of over 70 minutes but considered it Brandy's most assured, risky album yet, stating:
"Full Moon comes the closest to being a full-fledged, well-rounded album, as well as establishing a personality as a singer [...] There are plenty of moments here that are seductively smooth and even the filler goes down smoothly."
He gave the album four out of five stars.
Slant Magazine writer Sal Cinquemani rated the album three stars out of five and compared it to Janet Jackson's 1986 album "Control," commenting:
"For the most part, Full Moon is certainly a forward-minded album, lifting Brandy's typically schmaltzy brand of pop-R&B to a new, edgier plateau [...] The all-grown-up Miss Moesha seems to be making her final transition from sitting up in her room to sitting on top of the world."
Billboard magazine praised Full Moon for its ballads and the leading single but was unsatisfied with the album as a whole, stating that "those expecting more from the same [as "What About Us?"] will be disappointed, it's a fairly paint-by-numbers affair."
Devon Thomas (writer for "The Michigan Daily") was generally disappointed with the album. He said about the album:
"heavily producer-driven, the album follows the template that catapulted her sophomore album to multi-platinum status. The tradition (or condition) continues on her junior outing, [which] exhibits the same ole Jerkins production we've heard time and time before, just slightly altered (or "updated") and equipped."
Critical with mainstream R&B in general, he further summed:
"We know it'll be another hit, another platinum plaque for the Moe-ster, but will this album go down on any 'Best of the Decade' lists? Highly unlikely."
Rolling Stone dismissed the album as "frantic, faceless, fake-sexy R&B."
In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating.
Album's Influence & LegacyEdit
Although initially receiving mixed reviews from critics upon release, the album has since garnered retrospective recognition from musicians, singers & producers, particularly within the contemporary R&B and urban contemporary gospel genres.
The album is often cited as inspiration for singers due to Brandy's vocal nuances and arrangements.
Singers Chris Brown, Kierra Sheard, Lil Mo, Mary Mary and Tank among many others often reference the vocal work as influential.
Songwriter Sean Garrett credits the vocal work on the album for his approach to writing, saying:
"I take a lot from what [Brandy] and Rodney did on the Full Moon album. I was extremely impressed with it and I always try to outdo that album."
B.Slade spoke of the album, commenting "Full Moon"'s single-handedly changed the vocal game. "It has been the template for vocal choices and background vocal arrangements [for years]."
R&B singer Melanie Fiona especially admired the singer's work on that album.
Neo soul singer India.Arie often cites the album, particularly the song "He Is" as being the template for a wide array of singers."
The oft-praised vocal work on the album sparked the idea of Brandy gaining the subjective nickname the "vocal bible."
Canadian R&B singer Keshia Chanté credited the album for inspiring her writing for her album "Night & Day" while American singer Luke James referred to "Full Moon" as the "bible" of 2000s contemporary R&B, calling it the "blueprint of how to do vocals."
- Executive producers: Rodney Jerkins, Craig Kallman, Brandy Norwood, Ron Shapiro
- Vocal producer: Brandy
- Vocal assistance: Ray-J, Joe Lewis Thomas, Michael Jackson
- Engineers: Jim Bottari, Stuart Brawley, Reginald Dozier, Jan Fairchild, Thor Laewe, Michael "Wolf" Reaves
- Assistant engineers: J.D. Andrew, Kenneth B. Hertz, Michael Huff, Marc Stephen Lee, Steve Robillard, Javier Valverde
- Mixing: Jon Gass, Brad Gilderman, Manny Marroquin, Dave Pensado, Dexter Simmons
- Mastering: Tom Coyne
- A&R: Andrew Feigenbaum, Craig Kallman, Brandy Norwood
- Design: Thomas Bricker
- Art Direction: Thomas Bricker
- Photography: Marc Baptiste
- Lori Andrews – strings
- Larry Gold – cello
- Edward Green – strings
- Gerald Heyward – drums
- Jubu – guitar
- Suzie Katayama – conductor
- Lila Kazakova – strings
- Kimbo – violin
- Eugene Mechtovich – strings
- Patrick Morgan – strings
- Michele Nardone – strings
- Isaac Phillips – guitar
- Robin Ross – strings
- Marston Smith – strings
- Thomas Tally – strings
- Charles Veal, Jr. – strings
- Zheng Wang – strings
- Joe "Flip" Wilson – piano
- Tibor Zelig – strings
- Yihuaw Zhao – strings
- Michael Jackson – Backing vocals on "It's Not Worth It"