Every Day Is A New Day

Diana Ross

Motown, 1999


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


I love Diana Ross; she’s beautiful, glamorous, soulful, charismatic…I could go on, but let’s just say that I adore her and leave it at that.  Her recording career has been frustrating to say the least, though. After breaking from the confines of Motown, Ross signed a lucrative deal (even by today’s standards) with RCA and took complete control of her career.  She set up her own company and went on to demand executive producer status on all of her albums.  This, of course, meant that for Miss Ross, her output at times was patchy and self-obsessed (Ross from 1983), and even a return to Motown and Nile Rodgers producing couldn’t lift her game (Workin’ Overtime anyone?).

Throughout the ‘90s, Ross relied on mainly compilations and box-sets to keep her flame burning.  There were moments of brilliance, namely 1993’s Stolen Moments live set and, of all things, a wonderful Christmas album with A Very Special Season released the following year. Her penultimate original album, Take Me Higher, received terrible reviews and although I didn’t think it too bad at all, it’s not great.  That brings us to her last album of original material, Every Day Is A New Day, released ten years ago.

Let’s start with a couple of positives; the cover and booklet featured shots of Ross looking as ravishing as ever, and her voice by this time had matured to a beautiful, deeper, sexier instrument than it had been known for. Gone were the slightly whiny tones that were evident when she reached for high notes; here she sounds cool, assured, and soulful. A cavalcade of writers and producers were assembled to introduce her into the new millennium, and although they did successfully update her sound, the old saying about too many cooks comes to mind by the time this one is even halfway done. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The disc opens on a high note with a cover of “He Lives In You” from The Lion King.  Ross delivers a great vocal performance and the track is given the anthemic treatment it deserves.  Next up is a run-of-the-mill R&B love song, “Love Is All That Matters;” even the title is a cliché and the lyric, written by Diane Warren, is no better.“Until We Meet Again” fares much better, if not just for Ross’ touching delivery of a lyric that at the time was obviously close to her heart (at the time, she was in the process of a divorce she did not want from her mountaineering shipping magnate husband Arne Naess Jr.).

“Got To Be Free” again laments the pain of an unwanted but necessary separation. It takes a couple of plays to warm to this one, but it gets the job done in the end. The theme remains the same for “Not Over You Yet,” which is definitely the album’s strongest and most focused track. The remix of it became a top ten hit in the UK, and Ross once again delivers a heartfelt reading of the personalized lyric, “You were the first who ever brought me out / Showed me what life and love was all about / Gave me things that I never need / You’re in my thoughts, my every dream.”

But it’s here the album takes a nosedive in the taste stakes that it never fully recovers from.  “So They Say” and the title-track sucks whatever life and class that the team has developed up to this point away in one fell swoop. They are cliché-ridden, boring, lifeless R&B songs that should have never made it passed the demo stage.

“Sugarfree” is an uber-cool track that is let down by yet another lost love lyric; even Ross herself sounds like she’s had enough by this point. It seems as though Ross went out of her way to let the world know that the love of her life fell out of love with her and traded her in for a younger model.  Yes, it’s sad, but how many songs do we need to remind us?

Ross collaborated with Christopher Ward and Tim Tickner and wrote one of the album’s strongest tracks, “Hope Is An Open Window.” A gospel choir and Ross’s passionate delivery make for a true lost gem.  Finally, some elevation for the spirit is found within the introspective lyric. Maybe Miss Ross should put pen to paper more often. The album closes with a pure disco cover of “Carry On.” A list of divas that haven’t covered this one would certainly be shorter than the list of those who have.  It adds nothing but is a happy note to say goodbye with.

So there it is, a for the most part a heartbreaking, morbid account of Diana Ross’s divorce.  Too many sad, flat songs killed what had the potential to be a fantastic record. Following Naess’ death in 2004 (a result of a mountain climbing accident) Ross called him the love of her life and lamented how she still deeply she still cared for him. One listen to this and there’s no doubting it. The only problem is while this disc no doubt acted as therapy for her, we are left with yet another patchy release from a true legend that is just not good enough.

Rating: C+

User Rating: B


© 2009 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Motown, and is used for informational purposes only.