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EDITIONS
 Monday, 2 December, 2002, 15:10 GMT
Carey's charm offensive
Mariah Carey
A lot is riding on Mariah Carey's new album

Mariah Carey is striking out on her own after she was dropped by EMI ater poor sales for her first album, Glitter. Her latest, Charmbracelet, is the first to be released on her own record label MonarC and heralds the start of her new relationship with Island DefJam Records.

This is Mariah Carey's first album release since her expensive EMI debacle, and though it is not make or break, a lot will be riding on it.

The question is not will Mariah fans love it, because they will presumably lap up anything she produces.

But can Mariah recapture the middle ground of pop which she held for so long, but has now surrendered to other artists such as Shania Twain and Destiny's Child?

Though Charmbracelet is undeniably a well-produced, well-packaged product, it probably does not go far enough to win over those sick of the slick Mariah sound.

Mariah Carey
Carey is clearly a gifted producer

There are some definite moments when you begin to become convinced that Mariah can transform herself into an artist for the 21st Century.

Boy, featuring Cam'ron, You Got Me, featuring Jay-Z, and Irresistible, with a rap from Ice Cube, stand out.

Their raw, rough vocals nicely offset her sugary sweetness.

And some of the guest producers, such as Just Blaze, give her a harder, more convincing feel.

Hanging out with tough, no-nonsense rap stars clearly suits her.

Breathy vocals

She is also clearly a gifted producer. Some of my favourite songs were those produced by Mariah herself, alongside Randy Jackson.

Tracks such as I Only Wanted and Bringin' On The Heartbreak have a stronger tune, fuller and more varied production (including a rock guitar) and richer vocals.

You feel she is actually belting out the vocal line, showing off the strength and depth of her amazing voice, rather than resorting to that close-to-the-mic breathiness which she so easily slips into.

But too many of the songs are made of that cloying candyfloss that is all-too-distinctively Mariah.

Breathy vocals swooping around silky smooth arrangements full of artificial strings, bells and twinkly pianos.

This album is clearly important to Mariah.

On the sleeve she writes: "I still believe that after every storm, eventually a rainbow appears."

And in her first single, the Jam and Lewis-produced Through The Rain, she sings: "I can stand up once again/On my own and I know/That I'm strong enough to mend."

But that single - sounding like a reworking of Hero - is typical of where too much of this album is heading.

Too much icing and not enough cake.

See also:

09 May 02 | Entertainment
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07 Sep 01 | Entertainment
02 Aug 01 | Entertainment
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