Music Review: Mary J. Blige's "Stronger with Every Tear"

12/21/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Sanela Djokovic

"Stronger with Every Tear" was supposed to be released last week, but was pushed back to avoid competition with Alicia Keys’ "The Element of Freedom." They seem to have gone with the appropriate game plan seeing that "The One," Blige’s first single off her ninth studio album, was not the hit they were hoping for, despite its infectious beat and a cameo from Drake. Still, "The One" is one of the stronger, Mary-esque tracks on the album, and while there are other songs like it, there also are some songs that are a miss, leaving the album slightly under the bar for Mary J.

There is plenty of Mary doing Mary on "Stronger." Plenty pronouncements of self-affirmation and female muscle, but also declarations of real love. "In the Morning" is a wonderful example of a real love anthem. The song asks the eternal question: "Will you still love me in the morning?" It examines the trials and pains, the distress and uncertainty of love, but comes up with the conclusion that although it isn’t ideal, it is worth it. The song also provides us with vintage Mary--a satisfactory dose of soul, controlled vocals with plenty of emotion.

Another winning assessment on love is "I Love You," produced by Polow Da Don (responsible for Usher’s "Love in This Club," Chris Brown’s "Forever" and the Mary J. hit, "Runaway Love"). The song, which asks a man to prove his love, grabs your attention immediately and never lets it go. The loving becomes even more fun with "Good Love," featuring T.I. The pleasingly flirtatious track captures the sensation of being helplessly lost in a crush, with T.I. spitting his own flirtatious rhymes for the ladies.

Still, some of tracks fall flat, despite their potential. We love to hear Mary standing up for herself and calling out other women, which she does in "Kitchen," a cautionary tale to women who love their men, telling them to keep other chicks away… from their kitchens. The song, produced by Tricky Steward (Britney’s "Me Against the Music," Rihanna’s "Umbrella" and Beyonce’s "Single Ladies") and "The Dream." The beat is pretty infectious and will have you singing along fairly quickly, but lyrics such as “All up in your fridge, next will be the stove” make for an unsuccessful metaphor.

Blige received some great talent to write and produce on "Stronger," such as Ne-Yo, Ryan Leslie and Raphael Saadiq. They all contribute to an overall good album, which still falls short of the force we usually feel when listening to Mary J. Blige.

On the other hand, "Growing Pains" is a hard album to follow.

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