Sunday, August 21, 2011

Celine Dion's Soulful Let's Talk About Love Is Only Marred By Dance Tracks.

The Good: Some decent vocals, Moments of good production, Some lyrics, Good duration
The Bad: Often overproduced, Incongruent dance tracks, Thematically monotonous
The Basics: A good, but not great, album Let's Talk About Love is a simple, monotonous concept album from Celine Dion plugging home (again) the desires to give and receive love.

When Celine Dion comes out with what could arguably be a concept album entitled Let's Talk About Love, it might seem ridiculous to criticize the album for being "thematically monotonous." After all, most concept albums pick a theme and stick with it and there are some amazing concept albums from pop and rock artists. The problem I have as I immerse myself in the music of Celine Dion has to be that if Let's Talk About Love is a concept album about love, ALL of Dion's albums are. Celine Dion is pretty much the one-trick pony diva who has been assembled by a team of writers and producers who seem convinced that the only thing listeners want to hear (or that Dion can sing) from Celine Dion are songs about love.

Even so, in the pantheon of Celine Dion albums and of all albums, Let's Talk About Love is actually one of the better ones. This album, arguably most known for the presence of "My Heart Will Go On" and "Tell Him" (as well as "To Love You More"), has Celine Dion vocally dominating the album. For the first time, she overcomes all of the production elements that have either drown out or distracted from her vocals on earlier albums. There is some irony in this as well; Let's Talk About Love has Dion performing with other artists more on this album than on prior ones, as she has a duet with Barbra Streisand ("Tell Him") and one with Pavarotti ("I Hate You Then I Love You").

With fifteen songs clocking out at 71:08, Let's Talk About Love is another work where Celine Dion is the principle performer, but has minimal creative influence over the album. To her credit, on "Treat Her Like A Lady" Dion is one of four co-writers (but considering how lousy the track is, this might not be the ideal selling point for Celine Dion). Outside the lone co-writing credit, Dion did not write any of the music. She plays no instruments and while there are ten different producers for the album, Celine Dion is not one of them. Instead, Dion sings the works of other artists and on Let's Talk About Love she actually has recognizable songs from other contemporary artists, like the Bee Gees, who provide "Immortality."

That said, Let's Talk About Love is generally a good light pop album wherein Celine Dion sings about love and relationships. She has a soprano voice that is easily recognizable for anyone who lived through the late 1990s for songs like "My Heart Will Go On." It seems appropriate that in reviewing one of her other albums, I noted she was like Barbra Streisand and here she performs a duet with Streisand. The songs are mildly romantic songs appropriate for all ages and the album is fairly cohesive, if somewhat monotonous for those of us listening to a lot of Celine Dion's music this month.

The album has two major divergences in terms of its sound. While most of the tracks have a soft, ballad sound similar to the sound of "Immortality" and "To Love You More," the production and beats of "Treat Her Like A Lady" and "Love Is On The Way" are remarkably different. While thematically, they maintain the lyrical consistency about love, romance and having decent communications in relationships, stylistically, they sound different. "Love Is On The Way" returns Celine Dion to her Gospel roots. "Treat Her Like A Lady" attempts to move Celine Dion into a more hip-hop context. With a pounding bassline, the song attempts to give Celine Dion street cred with its lines like "She stopped going to church, she don't wanna go to school / She left with anger when he took her for a fool / Even though her friends tell her to just keep cool / Didn't tell her from the start just what he had planned / Right in her face with another woman / Now she's in jail for attacking her man" ("Treat Her Like A Lady"). This unfortunate set of terribly rhymes is mirrored only by how lousy Dion's vocals are as she tries to lend force to the words and come across as tough.

The rest of the album at least has Celine Dion presenting her songs as if she were exactly what she is, a dainty diva with a great voice. "Where Is The Love" has Dion singing slowly and sweetly at the top of her range and at the top of her game. Accompanied only by keyboards and faint drums, the song is a surprise great from the album which is otherwise populated by familiar covers or songs Dion made hits. The song is a classic love song in the way it sounds and feels and Dion's vocals help make it resonate with actual passion.

In fact, Let's Talk About Love, outside the two divergences, sounds like a classic album of love songs and it works for that. This album easily establishes her future stage performances as one woman with minimal musical accompaniment crooning to gushing audiences. In fact, "When I Need You" is exactly the type of track one would expect to hear from a Las Vegas crooner. This is not to say that Celine Dion isn't good, but it is to acknowledge that Celine Dion is hardly an original.

If Let's Talk About Love had been Celine Dion's first album or even her first American English album, it would have resonated better. However, by this point it is hard to listen to Celine Dion's works in a row and feel anything other than a strange indifference to them. She might have great vocal range, but her lyrics are almost all about love in the same mushy, teen gloss-eyed way and for those of us looking for something with real depth, even Let's Talk About Love doesn't have it. That said, it is an improvement in terms of prioritizing her voice and message and that makes it enough to recommend.

The best track is "To Love You More," the low point it "Treat Her Like A Lady."

For other works by Celine Dion, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Celine Dion
The Colour Of My Love
Let's Talk About Love
The Collector's Series, Volume 1
These Are Special Times


For other album reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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