mariahIt’s been so long since Mariah Carey released a proper album, her last one could almost have been delivered to you by carrier pigeon. That said, Mimi’s had a lot going on in her life since 2009’s Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, including giving birth to ‘Dem Babies’ and having to endure four months of Nicki Minaj, which is enough to send anybody into musical retirement.

Nevertheless, Mariah is finally back with her much delayed and fabulously-titled Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse – and I’m here to give my track-by-track verdict.

Cry

Mariah sets the tone of the album straight away with the opening track. Raw, melancholic and soulful, it’s a far cry (excuse the pun) from songs such as Touch My Body and Obsessed. Gone are the simplistic melodies, juvenile lyrics and Auto-Tune, and in their place is a convincing vocal performance full of rasp and emotion.

Faded

Miley’s mate Mike Will Made It produced this track, but don’t expect a We Can’t Stop part 2. Faded is a sexy slow jam, sprinkled with a helping of Mariah’s signature piano riffs. What starts as an understated R&B song soon builds into a proper Carey epic, with whistle notes aplenty and We Belong Together-style belts over the final chorus.

Dedicated (feat. Nas)

This is Mariah’s tribute to hip-hop’s “golden years” – not a subject matter many Mariah fans will be able to relate to (a more suitable topic may have been the “golden age” of the ’90s diva, perhaps?). That aside, Dedicated is definitely an album highlight – it’s a feel-good summer song guaranteed to make you want to pop on a bikini and wash your car like a sl*t.

#Beautiful (feat. Miguel)

The Miguel-assisted #Beautiful takes us all back to summer 2013 when this album should have been released. It was fresh, exciting and a change of direction for Mariah. In the context of the album it works really well, and given that summer is on its way again, I say we all just pretend the last 12 months never happened and enjoy what a great lead single it is, even if it was technically the album’s 32nd buzz single.

Thirsty

This one finds “Hoodriah” at her most ghetto. While this has been a good sound for Mariah in the past (see Up Out My Face) it just doesn’t work in the context of this album. As a standalone track, it’s great and will definitely appeal to a certain portion of her fanbase, but it really doesn’t belong on this album.

Make It Look Good (feat. Wale)

Make It Look Good is Mariah Carey at her absolute best – it features sleek production, a full orchestra and Stevie Bloody Wonder on the harmonica. And if that musical orgasm isn’t enough for you, the lyrics are both playful and fun, and syncopate with the music in a way only Mariah can deliver: “Fantasising ‘bout the way I lick your lips / fingertips on my hips as we dip…”

You’re Mine (Eternal)

Unfortunately, this single didn’t do as well as Mariah had hoped. Reaching the dizzy heights of #88 on the Billboard Hot 100, it’s safe to say it was no Hero part 2. However, I genuinely don’t think it’s a weak song – far from it. I blame its poor performance on the lack of promotion and the weird-ass video in which a topless Mariah struggled to hold her own tits up for three minutes solid.

You Don’t Know What to Do (feat. Wale)

Without any shadow of any doubt you may have ever had, this is THE standout track on the album. A Diana Ross-esque disco stomper, You Don’t Know What to Do is literally perfection from start to finish. With a dramatic intro to rival that of I Will Survive, the song builds into an infectious 70s-style floor-filler. Wale’s contribution doesn’t particularly add much, but to be honest with you, by the time he turns up you’re already too happy to care.

Supernatural (feat. Dem Babies)

Supernatural is Mariah’s tribute to her two beautiful children. A nice concept, right? In practice, though, it’s like something out of a horror film. The bizarrely Auto-Tuned baby babbles and repeated giggles basically leave you with that anxious feeling you get when you’re sat next to a noisy child on a plane. Unfortunately this means the song itself gets lost, and what may have been a nice ballad turns out to be a little bit… well… weird.

Meteorite

Picking up where You Don’t Know What to Do left off, Meteorite is another uptempo disco number that is guaranteed to make you want to dance. This time, though, there’s a futuristic sound to the track that is unlike anything Mariah has done before. It’s definitely a sound that suits her, and one that she should consider developing on her next album (in 2028, I presume).

Camouflage

The tempo is brought right back down for Camouflage, a ballad that utilises Mariah’s lower range – and has vocal layers so thick and beautiful you just want to bathe in them. If there’s a song on this album that makes you want stand on a beach at night, looking dramatically out into the sea with a single tear rolling down your face, this is it.

Money ($*/…) (feat. Fabolous)

The heavy use of brass instruments and the inclusion of Fabolous would make most people think that this track was pulled straight out of 2003, but despite that, it doesn’t sound dated. If anything, it’s refreshing to hear confident R&B that isn’t trying to “crossover”. Money ($*/…) and its unnecessary punctuation is definitely one for the “pre-drinking” playlist.

One More Try

A cover of the George Michael classic, Mariah’s version of One More Try manages to be both understated and epic at the same time. At six minutes and 21 seconds, it certainly wouldn’t qualify for Eurovision, but it doesn’t feel too long. In terms of ballads, this is definitely the best on the album, and as far as Mariah’s cover versions go, I’d say that it instantly makes her top five.

Heavenly (No Ways Tired/Can’t Give Up Now)

Closing the album, Heavenly is Mariah’s “gospel moment”. While the non-religious folk out there may find it difficult to get excited about lyrically, melodically it is empowering and impressive, if at times a little OTT with regards to vocal runs. That aside, no Mariah album would be complete without a gospel choir, and I was beginning to get anxious by track 13…

Overall:
It’s been a long, hard road for Mariah fans but ultimately, it’s been worth the wait. There are a few minor blips in Supernatural and the somewhat misplaced Thirsty, but the album as a whole is one of her strongest to date.

Musically, it oozes a sense of self-confidence that we’ve not heard since Butterfly, and while Mariah may not have the selling power she once had, her ability to produce a stellar album seems to be strengthening with time.

Me. I Am Mariah… strikes the right balance between the Mariah of yesteryear, and the Mimi we know today, and with time I believe this album will be regarded as one of her best.

Now you know what we think of Mariah’s album, read our track-by-track reviews of:

Sam Smith’s debut album
Lily Allen’s new album ‘Sheezus’
Iggy Azalea’s debut album

And don’t forget you can follow Martyn Hett on Twitter @MartynHett