Review Summary: In her recent outing Mary takes us from the church to the clubStyle:
R&B/Hip-Hop Soul with dance and funk influences
Upon a first listen one might question whether this is actually Mary J Blige singing who is known for her gospel inspired R&B tunes. However the dance music infused in this album is a welcome change. “Tonight” and “The One” are prime examples of how Mary uses the change to help fit her style, though the production is more of a club sound the lyrics are classic themes in her repertoire. “The One”, with a guest appearance by Drake, boost a level of confidence that rivals Mary’s rap on the Touch It Remix. The track also makes use of autotune but Mary remains in control only using it at the end of a phase until the vocal breakdown near the closing of the song.
Mary's material ranges from her tried and true themes of confidence and love to the nonsensical like the track “Kitchen”, which warns women not to another lady cook in their kitchen (a sign of a cheating spouse). The pain and sorrow that was so present on her past albums in absent, replaced with upbeat dance and funk inspired tracks like “I Love U (Yes I Du)” and “Good Love”. The ballads “In the Morning” and “Color” close the album and seem out of place against the more dominate club-orientated sound. Mary sings with such convention and power on the latter song that hasn't been heard since "The Love I Never Had", but is an exact opposite singing, metaphorically of spring, about love found not lost.
Speaking of vocals, Mary sings with such finesse one could hear that every word she sings is true, her voice is more consistent and clear now than in the past. Near the end of “I Am” and “Color” she hits and maintains the high notes in her range showing her improvement. She does away with use of melisma, which is excessively abused among R&B singers of today to show that they can sing. “Said and Done” and “I Feel Good” show that one should work with what they are given instead of trying to hide their vocal shortcomings. There are times when the lyrics are so cliché that one might not want to believe they were actually penned but Mary’s commitment to sing them makes up for it.
In the end Stronger with Each Tear
shows Mary vocal growth and willingness to work outside of her genre, but shows that some minor work needs to be done lyrically and have an expansion of subjects sung about. However the record is a must have for fans which bridges the gap between where she was and where she is now.
I Love U (Yes I Du)