Thirteen is an unlucky number for most people, but for Mary J Blige, it’s a fresh of breath air.
Her 13th studio effort ‘The London Sessions’ sees Mary team up with some of the hottest artists from the UK, including Naughty Boy, Disclosure and Emeli Sandé. The most obvious contributor is Sam Smith, who injects his DNA into a number of tracks.
First cut ‘Therapy’ is a deep soul doo-wop number with Sam on backing vocals whilst ‘Not Loving You’ is a straight-up re-write of ‘Lay Me Down’.
‘When You’re Gone’ also has the makings of a Sam Smith ballad with its stirring guitar, but Mary’s delivery unearths a searing vulnerability that we rarely see from the diva.
It’s not all about chasing trends though, with a smattering of 1990s pop disco on ‘My Loving’ and ‘Pick Me Up’ that work surprisingly well. The latter even plays with genres by combining disco references with a jazzy sax solo.
The Emeli Sande-co written ‘Whole Damn Year’ slows things down with its simple arrangement and haunting lyrics.
But soon Mary is back in the club for ‘Follow’ and ‘Nobody But You’, illustrating her canny ability to make her voice shine amongst the busiest of dance beats.
Our favourite track is the funky pop goodness that is ‘Right Now’ which is catchy as hell. It manages to sound like home both amongst her ‘No More Drama’ heyday and the current musical climate.
Earlier this year, we elected not to review Mary’s ‘Think Like A Man Too’ soundtrack album because it was underwhelming in both style and substance.
Thankfully ‘The London Sessions’ has renewed our faith in the enduring R&B icon.
By proving she can play amongst the heavy hitters of the current dance soul scene, Mary has re-invigorated her career. This is the best and most relevant she has sounded in years.
Download : Right Now, Nobody But You