Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Without Remorse, The Colour Of My Love Is A Schmaltzy Light Pop Album.

The Good: Great voice
The Bad: Thematically monotonous, Overproduced, Overbearing musical accompaniment
The Basics: A disappointing album that has a monotonous sound and feel to it, Celine Dion's The Colour Of My Love is obvious light pop music.

Celine Dion is my August Artist Of The Month and already, things are not looking so good for her under my pen. Celine Dion has a good voice and she certainly looks good on the covers of her albums, but the more I listen to her works, the more I come to conclude two things: 1. Her success is largely based on hype and 2. She is attempting to be the current generation's Barbara Streisand or Tina Turner. The thing is, the staying power of Tina Turner (one of the top three high-grossing performers touring the world today!) cannot be underestimated; we don't need a new Tina Turner, the classic one is doing just fine, thank you.

By all this, I mean Celine Dion is not much of an artist, she is a performer. She is a studio-produced, label manufactured singer who is designed to sell records, tapes and now compact discs based on looking good, sounding good and churning out hit records. Unfortunately, the longer one listens to the works of Celine Dion, the less original and less impressive they begin to sound. Case in point: The Colour Of My Love, which spawned the hits "The Power Of Love" and "Love Doesn't Ask Why" and housed "When I Fall In Love" (which had been made a hit from its association with the film Sleepless In Seattle). The album is comprised entirely of similar-sounding tracks that have a sleepy, overproduced quality designed to tug on the listener's heartstrings and sense of romanticism. The problem is that the raw emotionalism of the songs soon becomes overwhelming in a strangely underwhelming way, like turning on an emotional spigot, after a while it just becomes background noise of water falling. The initial impact and force of the music quickly dissipates.

In other words, this is yet another Celine Dion album that sounds like what we've already heard from her. The Colour Of My Love is, as most Celine Dion albums apparently are, only marginally the work of singer Celine Dion. With fourteen songs taking up just over sixty-one minutes on the compact disc, there is minimal involvement from Celine Dion. She shows up, sings the words of others and leaves. If that seems like a cruel minimization of her talents, consider that Celine Dion wrote none of the songs on The Colour Of My Love, nor does she play a single instrument on the album nor is she involved in any way with the production of the album. She is a singer alone. Alarming, at least for those of us looking for musical integrity, is the fact that there are only two songs consecutively on the album by the same producer. Dion rotates instrumental performers, writers and producers quite a bit on this album, almost as if she turned to a different producer after each song and whipped off the next factory-guaranteed bit of musical schmaltz. This calls to mind the idea of studio-owned actors and how they performed in whatever the studio churned out. In the case of Celine Dion, the analogy is not inapt.

On The Colour Of My Love, the songs are thematically unified on the topic of relationships and the album works as a soft pop album save the ridiculous "Misled." Driven by late-'80s, early-'90s keyboards and drum machines, "Misled" has Celine Dion attempting to be uncharacteristically tough and laughably skewering ethnic American English when she sings "Lovin' somebody ain't your average 9 to 5 / It takes conviction it takes a will to survive / I'm not somebody who commits the crime / And leaves the scene / But when I've been dissed / I don't spend much time on what might've been." The song is the album's lone up-tempo attempt and it falls flat, especially with the diction used on it.

The rest of the album is a narcoleptic tribute to love and relationships where Celine Dion sings the heartfelt words of others and gets the listener to consider the value of love and sticking with the ones we love. Songs like "Only One Road" pound home the idea of lifelong, monogamous romances. It has the same resonance as "The Power Of Love" (including the same soaring crescendos and instrumental swells) and "Real Emotion." And while the album has soft ballads like "When I Fall In Love" and "The Colour Of My Love," the earnest quality of the vocals is soon lost amid the production elements. The drums are slow, steady and mechanical in their precision, the keyboards have all of the same sweeps and descents.

Vocally, The Colour Of My Love (the album) is not Celine Dion's most impressive work by any means. Songs like "Next Plane Out" have Dion overwhelmed by the instrumental accompaniment and sounding more harried than passionate. When she speeds up, it sounds more like she is attempting to regain her footing as opposed to actually express some deeper emotion. Similarly, despite hitting a few higher notes on "Real Emotion," the presentation of the vocals are so emotionless on that song that she undermines the song's lyrics. The somewhat robotic sound of her delivery of the lyrics fits in well with the computerized percussion, but guts the lyrics.

Outside competing with the production elements, The Colour Of My Love does insinuate the genuine talent of Celine Dion. She is a competent soprano and when she is not competing with the instrumental accompaniment or having a dance beat overwhelming her voice, her vocals are beautiful. As sappy as "When I Fall In Love" may be, it bears her authentic voice in a way that showcases her talents. This is a nice change from songs like the melodramatic "I Remember L.A." where she softly whispers out the sentiments of loss and desire for days and places gone by.

The Colour Of My Love is a very obvious light pop album where the intent is to pull on the heartstrings and the monotony of the album vocally, thematically and with the instrumental accompaniment gut it of any emotional resonance. Fans of Celine Dion deserve better. More than putting one in a romantic mood, this album is more likely to put the listener to sleep.

The best track is "The Power Of Love," the low point is "Misled."

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


For other album and singles reviews, please be sure to 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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