20 December 2013

20th December - Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough

Artist – Album: Mary J. Blige – The Breakthrough
Released: 20th December 2005
Sounds Like: No more drama in my life          

Hats off to Mary J. Blige. I do try to listen to each album with open ears (is that the correct phrase??) but, having grown up during a period of tepid R&B dominance, I had particularly low expectations for this one. Worse still, I remembered the chokingly poor team up with U2 for the cover of ‘One’, a version that was more bilge than Blige. Suffice to say, I was bracing myself for two thumbs down for this effort.

But, I’m pleased to say, I was dead wrong. On album highlight ‘MJB da MVP’ (one of many collaborations, this time with 50 Cent), Blige proclaims herself the “Soul hip hop queenand she means it. Few can match her for her stunning vocals, and whilst Mariah got lost in some loopy dreamworld and Whitney battled with addiction and bad men, Mary had the smarts to keep it real. Her influence on the best R&B/soul artists such as Aaliyah and Alicia Keys is plain to see, but she was also able to keep up with the times – ‘Be Without You’ and ‘MJB da MVP’ are excellent singles.

Blige was 34 by the time of the Breakthrough, and so it’s understandable that matters in her life have settled somewhat. Despite her ‘Baggage’, she’s now happy and married and that old attitude has simmered down a bit. Regardless, great production, top notch vocals, and simply the most consistent set of songs Blige has worked with in a long time make for a thoroughly enjoyable record. As long as you ignore the U2 track.

Albumaday... rating: 7/10

1.       No One Will Do – 4:46
2.       Enough Cryin – 4:20
3.       About You – 4:04
4.       Be Without You – 4:06
5.       Gonna Breakthrough – 4:00
6.       Good Woman Down – 4:07
7.       Take Me as I Am – 3:57
8.       Baggage – 3:35
9.       Can’t Hide from Luv – 3:52
10.   MJB da MVP – 3:21
11.   Can’t Get Enough – 3:40
12.   Ain’t Really Love – 4:40
13.   I Found My Everything – 5:23
14.   Father in You – 5:23
15.   Alone – 4:29
16.   One – 4:20
Listen to ‘Baggage’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmrnnr_1Ipk

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