Skip to main content
/entertainment

Whitney Houston reveals little in comeback album

  • Story Highlights
  • Review: Houston never truly lets listeners inside her heart and head
  • Her famous voice, which now sounds husky and glottal, brings a gravity to the album
  • Some tracks obliquely reference her well-documented dark times
By Leah Greenblatt
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
Entertainment Weekly

(Entertainment Weekly) -- Pop stardom has its privileges.

Whitney Houston has credited mentor Clive Davis, right, for her comeback after a seven-year absence.

Whitney Houston has credited mentor Clive Davis, right, for her comeback after a seven-year absence.

Unlike schoolteachers and tax accountants, creative types with personal demons are often able to take what doesn't kill them and emerge not only stronger, but with a new sort of depth and pathos -- and often, a wider audience for the pain they turn into art.

"I Look to You," Whitney Houston's first album in seven years, doesn't pretend to offer the unblemished 21-year-old we met on her smash 1985 debut, but it never truly lets listeners inside the heart and head of the woman she is today.

A number of tracks obliquely reference her well-documented dark times, from the midtempo club jam "Nothin' but Love" ("I could hold on to pain but that ain't what my life's about/ I ain't blaming nobody if I don't have my stuff worked out") to the soaring, shamelessly schmaltzy title track ("every road that I've taken/Led to my regret").

Houston's famous voice, which now sounds husky and glottal, as if her vocal cords were sent through a washer-dryer cycle with a handful of small rocks, brings a gravity that the album's often generically worded ballads lack.

Don't Miss

  • EW.com: Music reviews

Still, she seems relieved to turn to lighter stuff, like the saucy-sweet Alicia Keys collaboration "Million Dollar Bill" and airy Akon duet "Like I Never Left."

On the album's thumping coda, "Salute," Houston refers to herself as a "soldier girl" ("I took the fall, now I stand tall"), but listeners may feel shut out of the fight.

Whatever hardship she's endured, the battles within remain a mystery.

EW Grade: B-

CLICK HERE to Try 2 RISK FREE issues of Entertainment Weekly

Copyright 2009 Entertainment Weekly and Time Inc. All rights reserved.

All About Whitney Houston

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print
Quick Job Search
keyword(s):
enter city:
Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2014 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.