Mariah Carey

Sony, 1991


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


On her sophomore album, Mariah Carey follows the same format as both the debut and most Whitney Houston records of the 1980s: appealing R&B-flavored pop songs exclusively centered on relationships that more or less squander her natural vocal talent.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's hard to fault Carey for this, though, as she is clearly growing as an artist at this point (she was 21 here) and had yet to find a signature sound, which would come soon enough on Fantasy. But the fact that she wrote all the lyrics and co-wrote nine of the 10 songs here is commendable, and the songs are inoffensive and catchy enough to make for a pleasant, bland listen.

"Emotions" could frankly have been written or sung by anybody in the '80s; one can easily picture Gloria Estefan, Paula Abdul or Houston singing it, and only Carey's random background vocal gyrations distinguish her as the singer, although they seem designed more to showcase her range than to serve the song. Still, it's a servicable slice of MOR pop that you probably heard in the waiting room last week.

"And You Don't Remember" is better, a bitter breakup song that sounds strangely knowing from someone barely old enough to drink (and this was before her divorce). The gospel underpinnings of "If It's Over" (co-written by Carole King) are another highlight and both "Till The End Of Time" and "The Wind" are fine ballads, the latter an elegy for a loved one that, with its piano and upright bass, is Carey's first real torch song.

Other than that track, the disc is hampered by the tinny, cheesy '80s production and the bland nature of most of the songwriting. Emotions is a pleasant listen, Whitney lite, but it won't turn any heads, which is why Carey revamped her approach for her next album and became a superstar.

Rating: C-

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