One thing's for sure, Mary's still keeping it real.
Talia Kraines 2008-02-06
With 40 million record sales and a whole lot of ups and downs behind her, it's somewhat comforting to finally hear an album from the queen of hip hop soul that finds her... happy. But don't worry, as soon as you get to track two, Grown Woman, she's back to marking out her edgy fighting stance; proving she's certainly lost none of that raw toughness that made us love her in the first place. One thing's for sure, Mary's still keeeping it real.
Lead single Just Fine cements the happy feeling with its up for it party vibe and Mary confidently declaring that "this joint right here makes me wanna... wooo!" While nothing quite lives up to the dancefloor groove of 2001's Family Affair, Work That shows she's lost none of her empowering emotion when creating a dance beat.
It's no surprise that one of the best r & b vocalists of our generation, can pull in the heavyweights: Usher guests on the predictable Shakedown, and Ludacris pops up on Work That. There's also production work from the very best including The Dream, Dre & Vida and Stargate, though nine separate production teams is considerably less than the 16 on her previous album, The Breakthrough. Ne-Yo penned three songs, the best of which being the dark string tinged Fade Away, and even Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes write and produce the warm disco-funk of Till The Morning.
Mary's always kept her head and heart despite her stellar rise and, unlike some fellow divas, has no need for elaborate vocal embellishments to get her message across. Mary's cool, clear soulful voice has always worn its emotions in the open. We've grown up hearing about Mary's pains with addictions and love and, while she may have more peace of mind (and cash) continuing to share her life with her fans marks this album and woman as one of the sincerest of the genre.