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Mary J. Blige : Strength Of a Woman

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Strength is the key word for Mary J. Blige’s 13th album, Strength Of a Woman, on which the R&B powerhouse returns to showcase exactly what her strengths as an artist are.
 
Throughout these soul-baring tracks she is unflinchingly honest on the subject of heartbreak, while showing a defiant refusal to play the victim. Besides the biographical content, Blige is first and foremost a singer. Her vocals are the defining point across the album, mixed in a way that shows off her natural talent, as time has not diminished her range or power.
 
While the production is decidedly slick and modern, it doesn’t push Blige into any unnatural corners for the interest of relevance or radio play. Standout song Survivor, finds Blige in soulful slow jam mode over a moody minimal soundscape populated by a heavy beat, booming synth bass line and reverb drenched backwards guitars. It feels like a nod to early 2000s productions and tastefully allows her vocals the space they deserve to breathe.
 
Elsewhere Blige embraces disco-inflected house with Find The Love, while Telling The Truth, produced by Kaytranada and featuring BadBadNotGood is good, but due to the recognisable fingerprints of its producer, she comes off sounding like the guest.
 
By Alex Watts