Review - No More Drama

Artist: Mary J. Blige


No, no, no -- you need drama, Mary. It's central to what makes your music good. Maybe not in your personal life, sure -- something you untiringly remind us of on your new album. But celebrating your newfound peace of mind really ought to be a lot more, well, dramatic than most of this revolving piece of self-actualization manages to be, shouldn't it? You manage to make love and happiness sound, of all things, a little bit cathartic, especially on the crescendos that climax the title track -- schlocky, sure, but heartfelt and effective -- and when you croon an ode to PMS sung over Al Green's "Simply Beautiful." (Hey! Clever!)

But those moments are rare here. Most of these songs feel less like earned declarations of freedom than middling pop-psych platitudes of same. And isn't there some kind of rule that an artist's credibility shoots down the drain the minute he or she asserts to "all the youth out there" that they've "been there," as you do on "Where I've Been"?

Well, at least your voice sounds in better shape than ever -- love that a cappella break on "Keep It Moving," for instance. I just wish it were attached to a song (and album) worthy of it. And you.