Album Review: Celine Dion's Loved Me Back to Life

Celine Dion has always been at her best with uptempo material and productions that stand up to her powerful voice. (I maintain the opinion "That's The Way It Is" remains her best song.) Thus, it is a pleasant surprise that during the first fifteen seconds of the title track for her new album, Loved Me Back to Life, you may think you are listening to a new Rihanna single because of the heavy beat and down-played, layered vocals. While Dion sticks to themes that have been her bread and butter (like the rejuvenating power of love) on her new album, she doesn't plow through every track like she's on a belting marathon. Instead, she lets herself dig into the modern soul and R and B flavored productions, playing with the smokier textures in her voice. The results are quite good. "Somebody Loves Somebody" has more grit and emotion than any piece in her back catalog, and her duet with Ne-Yo, "Incredible," is a subtle and sexy collaboration that has a lot in common with the classy pop-soul music Whitney Houston brought to the mainstream. The LP does have a couple sleepy piano ballads in its latter half, and they suffer in comparison to the more percussive and textured material. However, they  also highlight how great Dion sounds with a more lively sound and how flexible of singer she can be when paired with the right material. Because she became famous during the adult-contemporary-ballad hey-day in the 90s, she has sometimes been dismissed as the uncool soccer mom of pop, but that opinion shortchanges her strengths. Celine Dion may never be cutting edge, but she can carry a good pop song--something that can stand up with the work of artists like Adele and Katy Perry.

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