Feature

Whitney Houston: I Look to You

Whitney Houston is as compelling as ever on her first album in nearly a decade.

(RCA)

****

On her first album in nearly a decade, Whitney Houston sings “I want you to love me like I never left,” said Jim DeRogatis in the Chicago Sun-Times. Though her famous mezzo-soprano doesn’t quite soar like it did on her smash 1985 debut, Houston “gives us plenty of reasons to heed her call.” I Look to You squashes the rumors that suggested Houston’s drug abuse had ruined her vocal instrument. “The Voice”—that “sublime mix of gospel purity, pop prissiness, and bedroom purr”—is back and as compelling as ever. Houston sounds “confident and ready” for her long-awaited return, said Steve Jones in USA Today. Her voice might be weathered and more glottal, but that just gives the songs—about her well-documented hardships and her drive to turn her life around—the “emotional power” and gravity they need. From “Salute” to “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” this is the sound of a woman “who fell hard, pulled herself up, and discovered she wasn’t as fragile as she thought.”

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