** I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own. **
If you haven't ever heard of Mary J Blige, you apparently have been living on another planet for a couple decades. I mean, she has been one of the most successful artists of her time and has quite the loyal fan base.
She has an amazing record of 31 nominations, eight multi-platinum albums,
nine Grammy Awards, a 2012 Golden Globe
nomination, and four American Music Awards. She has one of the most alluring, soulful and unique voices in her genre and even if you aren't a fan of Mary J Blige's, you probably can pick out her voice and her music when you hear it on the radio.
I have my favorites in music, I most often listen to metal, hardcore, some old school rap, some alternative (The 80's were pretty rad!) and thrash, things along those lines. However, I appreciate all kinds of music and admire many different artists, regardless of whether or not I have their albums or have seen one of their concerts.
Mary J Blige is one of those artists that I have always had much respect for. So, when I was given the opportunity to listen to her new album, The London Sessions, I couldn't resist. I enjoy having a chance to review books, albums, movies, before they are released and even after and even if it isn't something I am normally "into", I think the project helps me as a blogger, a writer and a person. I try to enter the mind of the person who would rush out to the record store on release day and grab the album, (or pre order online, since there doesn't seem to be many record stores left these days.) I feel that it helps better myself as a person, so I can take a walk in somebody else's shoes for a bit and try and understand their points of views a bit more.
I was actually pretty excited when I received an email with, The London Sessions, inside and that was just the coolest! After all, it's Mary J Blige! I don't often get a chance to do a review for a real life superstar and their new album, so, that was really cool!
I have heard a lot of Mary J Blige's other songs over the years, (I've been a bartender for 20+ years so, I hear a LOT of music on the jukebox, lol!) I already know her style, her voice and surprisingly, some of her lyrics. One of the reasons I do appreciate her as a singer is because she is one of those singers that you can actually hear the lyrics. You don't usually have to rewind to listen again and again just to pick out what she is singing. This album is no different in that sense.
Where it is different, is the style of music. Maybe not so much the actual music as a whole, but the whole atmosphere. Which is apparently what was intended. I do give mega props to artists who go beyond their realm and try new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Since I am not a hardcore fan of Mary's, I feel as though it isn't necessarily my place to say what I am about to say, but, it's the way I feel about this album. (and I have listened to it many, many, many times.) I do like her old style much better.
I do think she tackled this project head on and with much grace, fearlessness and as usual, she comes off as very fierce. (One of my favorite things about Mary J Blige is her attitude and personality in her music.) She did conquer this project, I have to give her a 100% on that but, I expected a little more from her, maybe 110%??
Now that I have said the only close to negative thing I have to say here, I will go on to what was phenomenal:
First, as I stated above, she came and conquered and that's just because she IS Mary J Blige.
Second, I feel she really, really, really poured her soul, her heart, her everything, into this album and that alone is what cancels out the parts where I kind of, sort of expected a little more.
Third, I think she did very well with this new, more raw style of music. I just keep thinking her voice and techniques are much stronger the "old way". I would actually like to see the songs from this album, redone for a new album, done "The Mary J way."
I don't like to give my opinion or views on lyrics that an artist or anybody writes because I don't believe it is proper for anybody to say, "Well, I don't like that song because the lyrics...." I feel the same about art class. How can you grade a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, a poem, a song that somebody else creates? Sure, if you can relate and you understand and know where they are coming from, then great! But just because you don't, you don't really have the authority to say that, "so and so just poured their soul into this creation and I don't like it!"
Of course you could critique by grading on whether they were lyrics that made sense, fit together, blended smoothly, but you can't truly go much further than that. So, for her lyrics, yes, all of the above is true. She is as always, easy to understand and even if I don't personally relate with her lyrics, I know many do and I think that is wonderful.
Would I recommend, The London Sessions to anybody? Well, of course! I mean, it is a bit different than what you may be used to but you will want a copy just because it is an artist you already adore. (I buy up all of the albums from my favorite bands, side projects, solo albums, even if they may not end up being my absolute favorites!) For any newer fans, you may very well end up falling in love with this album! For anybody who hasn't ever owned anything by, Mary J Blige, but you happen to like the London music scene, or you are a fan of some honest, therapeutic, raw music, then, you probably should check this one out.
Earlier I mentioned different genres that I listen to on a regular basis. The funny thing is, is that while those may be my favorite genres, I have favorite artists who don;t fit in any of those genres. Artists like, Bjork, PJ Harvey and even some Tori Amos. All 3 of these women have something in common in my eyes, they are all strong women who have the ability to relay messages through their raw emotion and I admire each of them for their talent and practically flawless music.
After listening to, The London Sessions, I have a newfound amount of respect for, Mary J Blige and I would put her up there with the other 3. Even if I don't listen to her music regularly, again, she fits right up there with all of the other divas and I'm certain that millions around the world would say she is in a diva class of her own ;) (5 million followers on Twitter kind of already says that!!)
Want a copy of Mary J Blige's new album?
You can purchase it on iTunes or Amazon.
You can listen to more of her album and of course find favorites on Mary's Youtube channel.
Follow Mary J Blige on Twitter!
What do you think of, The London Sessions?
Were you surprised? What are your thoughts on the lyrics? Did you also expect them to maybe be slightly deeper or do you think they are perfect the way they are?