"Whitney Houston is back ... or at least that's what she and her record label want you to believe," said Vincent Rossmeier in Salon. Her first album in seven years, I Look to You, ignited a lot of buzz when it was released Monday. But her 2002 comeback "tanked commercially," so there's no guarantee she'll get back to the top of the charts after spending a decade in "drug- and Bobby Brown–fueled infamy."
Houston is "tentatively climbing back into the pop machinery," said Jon Pareles in The New York Times, "no longer invincible but showing a diva's determination." Most of the "revelations" on I Look to You "aren't verbal—they're in the husky, vehement sound of her voice." And although Houston "still sings about the power of love," it's "not always benign anymore."
"Themes of strength, challenge, and triumph are laced throughout" the songs on I Look to You, said Joey Guerra in the Houston Chronicle, and these "slick pop-soul songs, diva ballads, and R&B jams" pick up right where 1998's My Love Is Your Love—"still her best album"—left off. Houston's latest "also rides a wave of almost universal goodwill from her fans, who just want their diva back on track." And she is.