By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
This may come as a shock to most you Uncivil Revolt readers, or maybe not, but I was not always a devout metalhead. When I was a kid, like all kids, I really enjoyed popular music back in the day that was considered cool. Whether it was Hanson, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, or Britney Spears, I was listening to it all. I even listened to the girl who made me want to go find a genie in a bottle, Christina Aguilera. The pop sensation, who’s girl next door looks matched her Aretha Franklin style voice, made her a dominant force in the pop music scene of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. It has been 6 years since her last release, 2012’s Lotus, but the blonde diva who gave us “What a Girl Wants” and “Beautiful” is back and regaining her creative juices with Liberation, her 8th studio album with RCA Records.
It is nice to hear Aguilera has not lost any of that defining soulful spirit that she puts into her singing. Liberation has been described by her as a record about freedom. Aguilera does a really stellar job incorporating an R&B flow with hip-hop beats. Not only that, she also dabbles with some reggae, electronica, and traditional pop melodies. It does not matter what style she is going for in each song, Aguilera is able to bring them together and create something profound. I feel that the songs are much tighter than the ones on Lotus. Her themes include freedom and female empowerment.
Starting off with the prelude “Liberation” before jumping into the brief “Search for Maria,” Aguilera gives it her all with “Maria,” which features samples from Jackson 5 where I could hear a young Michael Jackson. “Sick of Sittin” is a powerful funk inspired tune, where her soul inspired singing talks about the creative freedom she is going for. This is one of my personal favorites off of Liberation. I view her second single, “Fall in Line,” which is dynamic collaboration with Demi Lovato, as an anthem for female empowerment. This song was written before the Me Too Movement, but she feels it was the right time to put the spotlight on it. Next, we enter in the reggae flavor of “Right Moves.” With the help of Keida & Shenseea, this exotic island party jammer makes you want to hit the dance floor with a gorgeous woman. Teaming with GoldLink for “Like I Do,” Aguilera provides the right vibes with a mix of electronica and R&B. So far, I am enjoying what I am hearing.
Never wanting to shy away from her ballads, “Deserve” is a hip-hop slow jam, about relationship issues and trying to salvage it. Aguilera continues her ballad streak with the piano led “Twice,” which I feel is more her style. While I thought “Deserve” was good, I felt the raw passion in “Twice.” After hearing the powerful a cappella interlude “I Don’t Need It Anymore,” we come to her first single, “Accelerate.” This is a weird choice for a single, which features Ty Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz, because it is a fun hip-hop number, I did not feel a true connection to it. I see it as more of a song trying to give her street credentials in the hip-hop world. “Pipe” is another hip-hop ballad style song featuring XNDA, that I feel has a good down-tempo beat, but I feel it falls flat to my ears. The last two tracks are more ballad style songs, “Masochist” and “Unless It’s With You.” Out of the two, I see “Unless It’s With You” the strongest because Aguilera gives it everything she’s got in her powerful voice. That was the best way to close the album.
There were some speed bumps while listening to this album, but I see Liberation as Aguilera’s big comeback to the music world. She is not afraid to speak her mind, and try different things that maybe a little controversial. This is her best work since probably 2006’s Back to Basics and 2002’s Stripped (Yes, I listened to those albums, so shut up!) Working with different producers helped her create the album she wanted to make. The Voice be damned, Aguilera is back to conquer to the pop world once again. To Christina Aguilera, I salute you. Horns up!!! 8.7/10
2 Searching for Maria
4 Sick of Sittin’
5 Dreamers (Ft. Summer Rain)
6 Fall In Line (Ft. Demi Lovato)
7 Right Moves (Ft. Keida & Shenseea)
8 Like I Do (Ft. GoldLink)
11 I Don’t Need It Anymore (Interlude)
12 Accelerate (Ft. 2 Chainz & Ty Dolla $ign)
13 Pipe (Ft. XNDA)
15 Unless It’s With You
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