en: Just Whitney [info]
Once upon a time there lived an extremely gifted pop princess who possessed beauty, poise and a set of vocals that would make the clouds smile. Critics were perplexed by this seemingly perfect specimen, and swiftly termed her bland and banal. However, a bad-boy husband, 120 million album sales, and rumours of a dubious lifestyle ensured that Whitney Houston never leaves the headlines.
With one of the most exceptional voices in contemporary music, her latest album, aptly titled Just Whitney sees the diva return to her former glory with a combination of high-voltage ballads and smooth-liqueur R&B.
'Love That Man' sounds suspiciously like an ode to her much criticised hubby. Here Whitney comes across as soulful and sincere as she ooohs and aaahs in the right places. The mid-tempo track harks back to 80s soul with its simple bass line, and unfussy production.
'One Of Those Days' also has a slight retro feel to it, cleverly sampling the Isley Brothers' Between the Sheets. Modern day women will be able to relate to this one, as Whitney croons about the need to withdraw from the pressures of day-to-day living for a spot of girlie pampering.
Whitney has been experiencing her own fair share of pressure-cooker environments recently. For evidence, look no further than 'Whatchulookinat', an assertive, defiant statement against her critics. The gentle vocals, which appeared on previous tracks, have now been replaced by an authoritative Whitney stating: 'Unashamed by the life that I lead, the choices I've made, the things I have done, my belief in the one'.
The most welcomed return on Just Whitney is the incorporation of big love ballads; with the melancholic "On My Own" providing one of the album's highlights. The big-band orchestral feel to this track provides the perfect platform for Whitney to deliver vocally. Climaxing with one of those highly sustained notes sung in an octave that only the likes of Mariah, Celine and Aretha are capable of, she renders this track truly awesome.
The moral of this story is always stick to what you do best. Whitney's return to big ballads will hopefully ensure that this pop princess will be able to lead the rest of her life like a cliched fairy tale - happily ever after.