Mary J Blige is a phenomenon. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, her graceful touch defies time and trend, with her vivid approach reaching towards a more universal sense of connection. If the Super Bowl proved to be a reminder of the classic nature of her catalogue, then new album ‘Good Morning Gorgeous’ finds this Regal voice moving into new landscapes.
Naturally, though, there’s common currency with her esteemed catalogue. Refulgent in tone, gorgeous in execution, the new album lingers on matters of the heart – a full four different songs have ‘love’ in the title. Still, nobody does it better: ‘Love Without The Heartbreak’ is a stunning torch song, with Mary J Blige elevating the tender lyric to the arena of fine poetry with her delicate, poised touch.
‘Love Will Never’ exudes feeling, something balanced by latter album highlight ‘Falling In Love’ – the message may be the same, but when Mary J Blige is concerned it’s never one-note.
Indeed, ‘Good Morning Gorgeous’ makes way for a litany of guest talent. The feature from Anderson .Paak on ‘Here With Me’ excels, a natural pairing that pivots between a golden, instantly recognisable voice and a modern day West Coast artist whose soulful stretch seems able to leap across genres.
For the most part entirely consistent, ‘Good Morning Gorgeous’ effortlessly skips from a Dave East feature – the peppy ‘Rent Money’ – to Fivio Foreign’s turn on the single ‘On Top’, with the varied cast sharing a certain unity. Even Mary J Blige can’t save the DJ Khaled boast ‘Amazing’, a misfire that sinks almost immediately on launch.
A record that exudes charm and grace, ‘Good Morning Gorgeous’ revels in the stature of Mary J Blige, while also presenting exhilarating new ingredients. Potent R&B worthy of the much-hyped newgen, this record illustrates that sometimes the originals remain the greatest.
Words: Robin Murray
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