By Mesfin Fekadu
Christina Aguilera, “Liberation” (RCA Records)
It's been some time, but I'm glad you're back.
You lost me a bit on 2012's “Lotus” and threw me for a loop in 2010 with “Bionic.”
Not sure if it is because you took six years in between your last album and your new album, or if you're in a different place in your life, but there's something very special about “Liberation,” easily one of the year's best albums though it's barely been out for a day.
The album is just as pleasant as your 1999 self-titled debut, as powerful and poignant as 2002's “Stripped,” and as layered and soulful as 2006's “Back to Basics.”
“Liberation” has a wide range of styles and sounds, but it's also masterfully cohesive (apart from the Demi Lovato duet “Fall In Line,” which I can't stand and therefore deleted it from my version of the album, since that's what we can do in 2018).
But everything else is epic: “Twice” continues to show your voice in top form; “Pipe” is a sexy Quiet Storm anthem; and “Unless It's With You,” which closes the album and feels like an instant classic, is beautiful, raw and honest.
And then there are the jams: “Right Moves,” featuring reggae artists Keida and Shenseea, is the perfect song to play before going out; rapper GoldLink, with lyrical references to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” shines just as bright as you do on “Like I Do”; and “Accelerate” is bouncy and fun (plus, pretty much anything co-starring Ty Dolla $ign at the moment is fire.)
In some ways “Liberation” reminds me of Mariah Carey's “The Emancipation of Mimi,” her 2005 comeback album that reminded the world to never count out the diva.
Freedom sounds good on you, too, Christina.
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