The Queen of hip-hop and soul music that is Mary J. Blige is back is a brand new album! Written and produced in London with British songwriters and producers, The London Sessions has been mustering up a lot of hype.
It opens with the old school soul tune ‘Therapy’, written in collaboration with Sam Smith. It has a real 1950’s rhythm and blues feel to it, but still sounds remarkably fresh and current. The second of three tracks written with Smith is ‘Not Loving You’, a melodramatic piano love song which is reminiscent of Smith’s own ‘Stay With Me’, while the third, ‘Nobody But You’, is an mid-tempo electro-R&B track.
Another successful Brit whom Blige enlisted for the album was Emeli SandÃƒ©, which resulted in ‘Whole Damn Year’ and ‘Pick Me Up’. The former is typically SandÃƒ©; a down-tempo emotional song with a subtle bass. The good thing is that vocally, it doesn’t resemble SandÃƒ© in the slightest, it’s all Blige. The latter is a sax driven R&B song with a bouncy backbeat. It’s an obvious single choice.
‘Doubt’ was co-written by Blige with Sam Romans and is an inspirational mid-tempo track whereby Blige sings about ignoring those who doubt your capability, while ‘When You’re Gone’ is an emotional ballad describes a relationship where the two people involved miss each other terribly when they’re apart but need space when they’re together.
‘Right Now’ and ‘Follow’ are two up-tempo dance tracks produced by Disclosure. The former makes use of minimal electronic beats with progressive bridges and chorus’, while the latter is a house-pop with notions of auto-tune and a heavy bass. It also bares strong resemblances to the Disclosure song Blige featured on earlier in the year, ‘Fool for You’.
The London Session’s is unquestionably Blige’s best work since The Breakthrough in 2005 and quite possibly one of her best to date. Her vocals sound as flawless as ever, a rarity amongst female singers her age who have been in the game for as long she has. Although it is co-written and produced by an all star British cast, all of the songs sound undeniably Blige-like. She performs all of the tracks with such soul and emotion and the theme doesn’t get lost at any point. All of these elements: the voice, the lyrics, the production, the emotion, the soul, easily makes it one of the best albums released in 2014. No trying to hard, no trying to be something she isn’t. Just good, old fashioned, decent quality music.