I Look To You (released August 31, 2009)
The evolution of Whitney Houston has been interesting to watch. It's easy to forget, but Whitney was bigger than 15 Beyonces back in the 80s. She absolutely OWNED the entertainment industry, from music to movies to television. Her success was unparalleled.
But 15 years later she had regressed into the neighborhood crazy lady - you know, the one who lives in the raggedy house with 13 cats on the porch, yelling at cars that drive by.
But now that she's dumped that 200 pound albatross Bobby Brown (I was never, EVER a fan of that guy) she's looking to get back on track with her sixth album, I Look To You.
The best thing about Whitney's comeback is that she goes back to basics. She doesn't try to cater to the young crowd by shoehorning in autotune or guest spots from Drake like some veterans (*cough*MaryJ.Blige*cough*) . And although the album features tracks by today's biggest producers like Danja and StarGate, their sound doesn't overpower Whitney's.
Houston fans will rejoice. This sounds like a Whitney album.
For instance, the upbeat "Million Dollar Bill" is produced by Swizz Beats, but there are no annoying whistles and he isn't screaming SWIZZY! every three seconds. Nope, he simply lets the guitars go to work while Whitney breezes over this feel-good track. I cringed when "Like I Never Left" started off with Akon's ad libs, but Akon wisely followed Whitney's lead and the pair meshed to create a pretty good duet.
If you're looking for Whitney's signature power ballads, you won't find many here. The Patti LaBelle-sounding title track and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" aren't too bad, but don't expect Whitney to break loose and hit those high notes like she did on "I Will Always Love You." I guess her infamous extra-curricular activities took a toll on her pipes.
That's pretty much the story of the album - Whitney still sounds pretty good and she doesn't try to overstep her boundaries, but the album winds up being a little TOO safe.
It's safe to say that Whitney still has a strong fan base, and they'll be pleased with this album. I just wish we could have seen more glimpses of Whitney's former glory.
Best tracks: "Million Dollar Bill," "Like I Never Left," "Nothin But Love"
3 stars out of 5