Somebody Loves Somebody – Celine Dion
Loved Me Back To Life
60.20 min • Columbia Records • November 11, 2013
Little Bastard reviews
I consider myself quite knowledgeable when it comes to music and, until recently, quite cool, so I certainly didn’t expect to be raving about the new Celine Dion album. As some of you may remember, I was obsessed with the albums title track and 1st single ‘Loved Me Back To Life’ written by incredible songwriter de jour Sia Furler, and was almost rabid in anticipation of the album on finding out Celine had worked with producers such as Eg White and Brian McKnight. Given her recent output I thought I might have been setting myself up for a fall, but as soon as I pressed play on my iPhone a huge smile crept onto my face and I knew I was on to a winner.
The opening title track speaks for itself, and its appeal to me has never got old. The mid tempo R ‘n’ B strut of ‘Somebody Loves Somebody’ is one of many highlights on this album, and I’ve found it impossible to keep still to … if anyone reading this has her breakthrough album The Colour Of My Love, ‘Somebody Loves Somebody’ is this album’s ‘Mislead’. For those that don’t, that means it’s bloody good. This is what I’ll be excited to hear live! The Ne-Yo duet ‘Incredible’ is a gorgeous trip into commercial hip-hop balladry, and Celine’s vocal with Ne-Yo’s intonation is very endearing. The Daniel Merriweather ballad ‘Water And A Flame’, the original title track before Daniel ranted on Twitter about Celine’s alledged inference that it was written by her (on a live tv appearance), is a stunning example of her new desire to take her voice to places its never been before. It also allows producer Eg White to mould her into an emotional riffing demon, “borrowing an edgy life” to sing about drinking your lover’s name away, whilst maintaining, “I’m ok, I’m ok”. I actually prefer this to the original, despite Merriweather’s version being a duet with Adele. Yes, it’s really that good! With the same creative team as ‘Somebody Loves Somebody’, the stunning ‘Breakaway’ is another favourite, and whilst Dion sings her face off as expected, she drowns you in a sea of emotion at the same time, something that I’ve often thought was lacking from her strong but often toneless vocal delivery. This album has that missing emotion in spades, dripping from every song.
Elsewhere, ‘Didn’t Know Love’ is a gorgeous pop piano ballad that ranks up there with the best of Celine’s career. Again produced by the amazing Eg White, Celine’s vocal breaks and cracks and soars over the beautiful backing, and I totally believe her as she sings,
I was lying,
as her voice cracks on the verge of tears.
Despite the odd tug at the heart strings, it’s mostly a cosy album, filled with warm R ‘n’ B tinged ballads that wrap around Celine’s stunning voice, and is perfect winter night listening. In fact if ‘Overjoyed’, a duet with its writer and original performer Stevie Wonder, isn’t her Christmas single then I should probably retire from journalism – it’s certainly what I’ll be listening to as the year careers towards an end and the nights get darker. When I’m in need of hot chocolate, mulled wine, and candlelight, ‘Overjoyed’ will be on repeat. And this is coming from someone who, if he’s honest, doesn’t really like Stevie Wonder!
Now I have to be honest; if the majority of this album was released by anyone else, I’d probably hate it! Celine’s voice, coupled with the contemporary nature of the songs, resonates with me much more if these songs had been given to a pop starlet like Rihanna or Beyoncé. This may be because it is so unexpected … for the past ten years Celine Dion has been an artist reserved for my Mum and my Aunt, who have followed her from the beginning of her career, and definitely not something that would sit next to Marilyn Manson in my iTunes library. Loved Me Back To Life, doesn’t feel like a tired or washed up Celine Dion, rather she manages to feel relevant and incredibly self aware, being just contemporary enough (and borrowing enough) from the writers she’s worked with to inform her powerhouse vocal delivery. It’s not an album full of “down with the kids” club fillers, but an album of classic yet contemporary R ‘n’ B pop that reminds us why we all know Celine Dion’s name, and why we won’t forget it any time soon.
And whilst the album doesn’t really tread out of ballad territory, but I think that’s what makes it work so well. The songs are pure class, but with a nice contemporary edge, making Dion feel relevant without trying too hard. The song choices are impeccable, and at least half the album will soon become classic Dion, with the other half still being some of the best work she has produced in years. It feels edgy without being desperate, it feels like a risk but at the same time comfortable, and everything down from the stunning cover art (where she looks to be in her late twenties) to the world class collaborations make this album perfect from start to finish.
From being a guilty pleasure to now being someone I’m proud to like, this album has returned Celine to the commercial sphere where she belongs, and here’s hoping it does well enough for her to stay there! If not, I will always listen to this brilliant album with the knowledge that it showcases a singer at her very best. And yes, I’m as shocked as you!