In years past, Ms. Carey has tried to appeal to every imaginable demographic by recording every possible genre: Top 40 for those over 30, Dance for those under 30... She remixed every single for the clubs, she re-recorded a lot of those songs for the remixes. She tried to start a revolution after her career was waning by releasing that very well known (yet somehow not well listened to) album, Glitter, which payed homage to the 80s sound that seemed to catch on after her record label dropped her. She tried to revive her ever-failing career by releasing Charmbracelet, full of R&B-like sound, lots of rap, and lots of processed vocals.
Mariah gives it another go with her 10th studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi. This time, she doesn't try to corner the urban market with in-your-face gangsta beats or fluttering vocals. There's a real honesty to this incredibly soulful R&B disk: pronounced bass, gentle guitars, symphonic strings, delicate pianos, perfectly produced percussion, and, of course, as the website touts, the return of "the voice."
With the release of the first single from Emancipation, I wrote a mini-review on my old "In My iPod" sidebar where I stated the the first single could (and should) be a lot better than it was. "It's Like That" is, indeed, the most dance-club-remix friendly track on the CD, if only for the lively drum beat.
Her second single, "We Belong Together," was nothing like I'd expected. Her voice envelopes every note so delicately that the ear doesn't even realize how the musical arrangement is just a piano and a drum beat, Mariah's lush voice filling every blank space in the track.
The rest of the album follows suit: Carey's voice expertly winding its way through each nook and cranny of every song.
This album shines as perhaps the pinnacle of Mariah Carey's career by carefully not overproducing each song (as has been her downfall in the past and the trap where similar new releases are caught in today), keeping the musical arrangements simple, and putting the focus back on the eight octave voice that made her a star in the first place.