Mary J Blige Love & Life Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Back in a big way, back in a significant way this CD marks a decade since she caught...

Keysha Davis 2003

Whether putting in an appearance at an award ceremony or performing a duet alongside an ageing rocker there's something about Mary, which consistently touches the soul of music lovers worldwide.

Back in a big way, back in a significant way this CD marks a decade since she caught our attention as the Timberland wearing, backward cap grimacing, Yonkers rude-gyal. Flanked then by Svengali producer, previously known as Puff Daddy, now P-Diddy - Love & Life is a full circle in many ways. P-Diddy serves as producer for all but one track.

Never one to shy away from emotions, Love & Life is testimony to Mary's new-found romantic status. Unusually whole for a CD filled with so many listings, listeners will be overjoyed with the sheer quality of the album.

For instance, the romantic 'Ooh!' Is likely to be only the first of many hip-hop inspired club anthems. Backed by a trudging horn riff, and an instantly recognisable break-beat; 'Ooh!' forms the perfect compliment for Mary's gravely vocals.

The funky drum snare continues on 'Let Me Be The One', although it must be said that the only sore point on this track is the less than inspiring rap from flavour of the month, 50 Cents. As if by magic, Method Man rights the wrong by adding a cheeky and charismatic verse on the summery 'Love @ 1st Sight', the first single to be released from the album.

There are so many facets to Love & Life. There are subliminal homages to old skool soul, displayed on the fantastic 'Willing & Waiting', a jazzy two-stepper sounding uncannily like something Shalamar would have recorded. Spirituality also runs rampant disguised amongst the many musical interludes, which is a nice departure from the usual nonsensical ramblings found on most R&B records. And then of course, theres the love factor.

Possibly a better album than the ground-breaking, Whats the 411, Love& Life musically re-unites the pair that defined an era. "I thought they told us that they wont stop". What took them so long?

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