May 3, 2012After re-introducing herself as a force in urban markets with 2010's "Still Standing" LP, Monica is back with a new man, a new lease on life and a new album, appropriately titled "New Life".
With R&B increasingly reliant on dance elements to satisfy the evolving chart climate it is refreshing to see a successful artist stick to their old school roots. This latest set of mid-tempo groove admirably smiles upon Soul days gone by, but Monica and RCA will find it no easy task to sell a record to a market who turned their backs on R&B for electronica at about the same time Rihanna did.
The album kicks off with "It All Belongs To Me" - the long-awaited rematch with duet partner Brandy. As both women wax lyrically about reclaiming material gifts from dead end relationships, Monica and Brandy's vocalisations cascade effortlessly along a simple electro guitar bassline provided by Rico Love. The duet's lukewarm reception earlier this year is likely a result of the song's mixed messages - the maturity of the theme undermined by basic rhymes of Facebook with Macbook - and a hook that while incredibly pleasant, is not overly memorable.
Rico Love, the man responsible for some of Kelly Rowland and Usher's latest hits, helms the bulk of the record's first half. He stacks chips with "Daddy's Good Girl" and registers a subtle reggae influence on "Man Who Has Everything" - two of the sets more diverse offerings. Elsewhere, Monica's cousin Polow da Don executes beautiful simplicity on "Without You" in which the songstress cuts assured and inviting vocal work, while Missy Elliott pushes her voice further to the front on one of 2011's greatest urban ballads "Until Its Gone".
The rest of the Standard Edition of "New Life" showcase Monica's aptitude for vocal interpretation and Whitney-esque runs but new listeners would likely equate the lack of thematic diversity for boring while long-time fans will likely feel these last songs betray her talent with run-of-the-mill lyricism and production.
"New Life"'s Deluxe Edition has four additional tracks. The first two, both produced Cainon Lamb run similarly to the Standard's final few and it's not until "Catch Me", a sincere and clever ode to falling in love that things pick up. Finally, the albums first radio single "Anything (To Find You) appears to galvanise proceedings - and galvanise it does, easily being the most energetic and radio-primed song amongst the set. Looping a Biggie sample and featuring Rick Ross on rhyme duty it seems unfair that this isn't included on the Standard Edition and promoted for all it's worth. At only 30, Monica is 17 years deep in to a career that's sustained amazing highs and more than a few knockbacks. Clearly, she's a woman happy with her lot and as a vocalist she's never sounded more convincing and warm but "New Life" isn't as adventurous or confessional as the title suggests and if she's down for another album it's gonna require a few more booster shots of originality to hold in today's cold urban climate.… Expand
May 26, 2012Monica and her latest album "New Life" is a disc that is painfully simple. Posted on it sixteen compositions are typical and not distinctive R&B songs like many others - making up a much hour of music loses its value. Absolutely it's not a bad suggestion, on the record you'll find also the good moments - but as it is often in the case and refers to R&B - artists forget that great voice is not a measure of the quality of the album.… Expand
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