The Voice is Back

By Siya Sonandzi

The voice is back. The long awaited seventh studio album by the pop diva, Whitney Houston marks the end of a six year wait for Houston’s fans. Recording and production for this album began in 2007 with conformations by record label boss Clive Davis. The album was first released in August 2009 in Europe, then later in the United States and United Kingdom in October 2009. It debuted at number one on the US. Billboard 200, selling over 300,000 copies in its first week. In February 2010, Houston commenced on her Nothing but Love Tour, which is her first tour in over ten years since My Love Is Your Love Tour (1999) and her 9th tour overall.

Known for her powerful mezzo-soprano, the album is a collection of pop, R&B and soul songs. Hip-hop beats are thrown in some songs to make the album more urban. Houston still maintains her soulful touch in the songs.

The title track I look to you (written by R. Kelly) is a mix of pop/soul with gospel, which comments on Houston’s problems in the past. The song reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Chat, scoring Houston her 30th top 20 hit. Other notable songs to look out for are Million Dollar Bill (written by Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Alicia Keys), which topped the Hot Dance Club Play charts and I Didn’t Know My Own Strength, written by legendary songwriter Diane Warren.

Production team behind this album includes R&B/Hip-Hop producer Kaseem ‘Swizz Beatz’ Dean, who produced Million Dollar Bill and is most notable for his work on Beyonce‘s Check On It and Ring The Alarm. Others include acclaimed songwriter/producer David Foster, the legend behind some of Houston’s biggest hits and Nathaniel ‘Danja’ Hills who produced Nothing But Love and For The Lovers. Some criticshave praised the contribution of R&B producers to the album, which makes it more contemporary.

Critical reception to the album has been generally positive, with more critics rating it a 3.5/5. Her voice is not as technically impressive as it was before. She doesn’t posses that crispiness in her voice that made I Will Always Love You and Run To You classics. She struggles to belt and hit notes, which should come effortlessly to such an acclaimed vocalist. Nevertheless, this album is a breath of fresh air. It’s the comeback fans have been waiting for.

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