Sunday, December 20, 2009

Album Review: Mary J. Blige "Stronger With Each Tear"

Stronger With Each Tear is Mary J. Blige's third studio album in a row to be released at the last possible second right before Christmas. I remember this because every other year, December means it's MJB time! Mary especially 'broke through' to me with 2005's The Breakthrough & offered a solid follow-up in 2007's Growing Pains. Now, after a very busy fall of mostly soundtrack appearances, Mary is back with a new effort all her own, but how does it measure up to her previous work?

The album kicks off with "Tonight," a cool track that seems to fit perfectly as the opener. Her ill-fated first single, the Drake-assisted "The One," is still blazing & still terribly underappreciated. Ryan Leslie then hits the keys for "Said & Done," which is pretty good & works well in between "The One" & the T.I.-featured "Good Love." Although it's been leaked for a while, this Stereotypes-produced song is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The uptempo has a very nice past-meets-present vibe to it thanks to some live instrumentation.

MJB calms down a bit on "I Feel Good," an appropriately feel-good song. The album's second single "I Am" has managed to find some success, which the signature-Mary ballad is worthy of. Next up is (sorta) the title track "Each Tear," a strong slow jam. As much as I like it though, it's no excuse for leaving off the original title track "Stronger." I really like the groove of "I Love U (Yes I Du)." Mary gets it with the vocals on this song too!

So far, Mary has covered both the ups & downs tempo-wise on Stronger With Each Tear without faltering. It's the last few songs before an album's closer, however, that often make or break an album as a whole imo & unfortunately, that is where this album falls off a little. There's nothing really wrong with the Trey Songz-assisted "Hood Love" (well, besides Trey...), but it's kinda ancient. Surprisingly, while solid & not at all bad, "Kitchen" finds production duo The-Dream & Tricky Stewart, who have been doing their thing lately, not meshing quite as well with Mary. Yet another ballad, "In The Morning" is just alright, but has Mary delivering vocally as always. Lastly, we all know the album's closer "I Can See In Color." Obviously it's a different breed of song--& a good one at that.

Stronger With Each Tear is a good album. There aren't even any bad songs, which has me wondering... why isn't it longer? Mary typically serves up more & incredible tracks, such as the Jazmine Sullivan-featured "Gonna Make It," were left off for no apparent reason. That, along with the fact that this album doesn't quite live up to its predecessors, is all the criticism I have to offer though. Mary brings it across the board & if you're looking for a good R&B album, as can be expected, you've come to the right place.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

No comments: