FOR HER EIGHTH ALBUM, CHRISTINA AGUILERA KEEPS THE VIBE SWEET, SIMPLE, AND FEEL GOOD, BUT INJECTS REAL LIFE DRAMA INTO THE PROCEEDINGS
BY MATT SCANLON
It has been six years since Christina Aguilera’s seventh studio album, Lotus, was released in 2012 an eternity in pop music timetables and an anomaly for the 37 year old, who had peppered the years from her eponymous debut disc in 1999 until Lotus with regular releases. On sale as of June 15, Liberation struck us as not only well worth the wait, but a fitting title from the multi platinum singer, songwriter, and actress, as it frees her, she explained, from other people’s expectations, including those of fans who still hunger for the barely clad and perspirational singer seen and heard in previous tracks like “Dirty” and “Come On Over (All I Want Is You).”
The new Christina is not embracing the life of a penitent nun, mind you but certainly a performer who has grown tired of convention and contrivance. From allusions to surviving the domestic violence she and her mother endured at the hands of her father when Aguilera was a child, to freeing herself from teen pop image, the new work is informed by real marrow.
“I just needed to get back to truth,” she explained in an RCA released bio. “I felt like I was stuck, like when you can do something in your sleep and you’re unmotivated by it and need to take a reflective moment and look at how you got away from passion and off your path. It’s a big step to walk away from something that’s comfortable, but it can also be liberating.” Aguilera clearly declares these intentions with the first track, “Maria” a Kanye West production rich with uplifting messaging, and which opens with The Sound of Music supplied line “How do you solve a problem like Maria [Aguilera’s middle name]?”
To tweak the new sound to a more stripped down, less production heavy model, Aguilera called in some heavy hitter collaborators, including songwriters Julia Michaels and Ilsey Juber and producers West, Che Pope, Mike Will Made It, Jon Bellion, and Nick Britell (the Oscar nominated soundtrack composer for Moonlight and The Big Short).
“Maria” is followed by vibey feel good songs (“Accelerate,” “Pipe,” “Sick of Sittin’”) along with relationship sagas (“Twice,” “Masochist,” “Unless It’s With You”), but the disc’s most unpredictable twist is the West/Pope produced “Accelerate,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz. Of the track, Aguilera said, “I heard it, and I was like, ‘This is so much fun!’ I love how the mood and energy continues to shift and change, from the opening of the drums and the feel of that raw energy coming off of that drum sound. All of a sudden, it’s a party.”
An associated Live Nation produced 22 city tour kicks off September 25 in Hollywood, Florida, and wraps in St. Petersburg, Florida, on November 13.
September 28, Mark G Etess Arena at Hard
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