Mariah Carey

Virgin Records, 2001



Imagine being in the wrong recording genre for ten years. It's enough to send anyone into psychiatric care.

Not to say Mariah Carey didn't do too badly among the MOR hitmakers - but geez, what a waste. Truth be told, singers like Whitney Houston or Celine Dion don't really sing these days - they sort of shout with style, in a vague imitation of Aretha Franklin. Or, if you're Jennifer Lopez, you don't even bother to shout; talking with a melody will suffice.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Carey, however, can sing. Listen to the million-and-one textures she brings to the full spectrum of Glitter. She can infuse a melody with pure desire as in "Want You" with just a whispered phrasing, send a glorious high through the pure-voiced "Lead The Way", simply let the groove take over in songs like "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" and "If We". In fact, for the non-ballads it's the groove that matters, the eighties vibe that's the star of this album; Carey is far from center stage. She's somewhere in the margins with the rappers, providing more texture to the groove.

This won't sit well with some of her fans, who want a (singing voice) Mariiiiiiah album. So the ballads are there, two stunners ("Never Too Far" and "Lead The Way") and two if-ies ("Reflections", "Twister"). I belong to the set of critics who wish she had ditched the last two songs in favor of more "concept" tracks but I may change my mind when I see the movie.

At the time of writing this review, Carey may or may not be at UCLA Medical Center receiving care. I won't presume to know everything that goes on in the life of a heavily-promoted pop singer these days; I think, I mean I thought, that she would be much better off doing music that she wants, in terms of artistry and acceptance. She's got a talent for grooves, obviously, and most of all... she can sing.

Rating: A-

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© 2001 JB 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 Virgin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.