The Ballads

Mariah Carey

Sony BMG, 2008

http://www.mariahcarey.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/14/2009

I am sort of outside the Mariah Carey appreciation generation -- or put another way, I am old. As such, I am a lot more attracted to her slower songs rather than her up-tempo material. That makes her latest release, The Ballads, a perfect album for me.

Mariah Carey is now almost twenty years into her career and has carved out quite a musical legacy. She was the first artist to have her initial five single releases all reach number one and she has just passed Elvis Presley as the solo artist with the most number one hits in the United States. In addition, she has now sold over 200 million albums worldwide.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Ballads gathers together eighteen well-known tracks from her years with the Columbia label into one package. While the album purports to be comprised of only slower material, the songs are different enough to make the sound varied and interesting. In addition, the inclusion of five duets enhances the listening experience and further diversifies the music. While such songs as “Always Be My Baby,” “How Much,” “Dreamlover,” “Thank God I Found You” -- and especially “The Roof” -- push the definition of ballad, overall they fit in fine with the concept of the album.

Even for someone like myself who has mainly been exposed to Mariah Carey while listening to the radio in my car, the songs are instantly recognizable and, I have to say, enjoyable. “Hero,” “I’ll Be There,” “How Much,” “Endless Love” with Luther Vandross, and “Vision Of Love” cover familiar ground. I even enjoyed hearing her duet with Boys II Men, “One Sweet Day,” which was played to death in the mid 1990’s.

This release is a different type Mariah Carey album. Without her faster and hip-hop songs, it is smoother as it puts the focus squarely on her vocals which has always been her greatest attribute and saving grace. All right, maybe not her greatest attribute, but close.

The only downside to the album is that the material has all been previously released and is readily available elsewhere. If, however, you have only dabbled in her large catalogue of releases or appreciate the concept behind this compilation, then it should be a definite buy.

In the final analysis, The Ballads stands on its own as a celebration of two decades of some of Mariah Carey’s best work. It should appeal to young and old alike and expand her appreciation society by at least a generation.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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