It's possible to criticize Mariah Carey for relying too heavily on her classic sound instead of experimenting and stretching into radical new territories. However, Carey is at her best when she sounds most like herself. A relaxed, high quality Mariah Carey tune goes down smoothly like little else, and on E=MC2 she seems more consistently relaxed into her groove than ever before. This is the sound of a star making music for her fans from a point of supreme confidence. That's not a bad thing.
Return of Confident Vocals
On Mariah Carey's last studio release, the phenomenally successful The Emancipation of Mimi, it seemed the production tricks were often utilized to mask any potential weaknesses in Carey's voice. Questions were left about whether she could really hit the high notes like in the past. E=MC2 kicks off with abundant proof Mariah Carey can still hit the high notes. The rich, supple ballad "I Wish You Well" concludes the album with another demonstration of her vocal acrobatics. Sandwiched in between are 12 songs that are among the most relaxed and confident of Carey's career. There is no need to prove her skills. Instead, she simply sings with comfortable conviction, and that is Mariah Carey at her best.
Experimentation and Serious Moments
Despite the fact that E=MC2 will sound so comfortably familiar to most Mariah Carey fans, there are moments of experimentation, most notably her venture into reggae with Damian Marley on "Cruise Control." Although the predominant mood of much of the lyrical content here is decidedly frothy, "Side Effects" takes on the impact Carey's ill-fated marriage to music exec Tommy Mottola still has on her everyday life. "Bye Bye," inspired by the death of Mariah Carey's own father, drops universal words of support for those saying goodbye to a loved one.
Top Tracks on E=MC2
- "Touch My Body"
- "I'm That Chick"
- "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time"
- "Bye Bye"
Mariah Carey At Her Best
There are throwaway songs here, particularly the three tracks created with Jermaine Dupri. However, the bulk of music here is well worth hearing and just may provide a significant portion of our soundtrack for the summer of 2008. Whether she's bouncing in the club with T-Pain and Danja on "Migrate" or extolling the virtues of committed relations on "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time," Mariah Carey invites us to tag along with her in a musical realm that frequently feels just right.