I am sort of outside the Mariah Carey appreciation generation or put another way I am old. As such, I am a lot more attracted to her slower songs rather than her up-tempo material. That makes her latest release, The Ballads, a perfect album for me.
Mariah Carey is now almost twenty years into her career and has carved out quite a musical legacy. She was the first artist to have her initial five single releases all reach number one. She has just passed Elvis Presley for the solo artist with the most number one hits in The United States plus she has now sold over 200 million albums worldwide.
The Ballads gathers 18 well known tracks from her years with the Columbia Label into one package. While the album purports to be comprised of only slower material, the songs are different enough to make the sound varied and interesting. In addition the inclusion of five duets enhances the listening experience and further diversifies the music. While such songs as “Always Be My Baby,” “How Much,” “Dreamlover,” “Thank God I Found You,” and especially “The Roof” pushes the definition of ballad; overall they fit in fine with the concept of the album.
Even for someone like me who has mainly been exposed to Mariah Carey while listening to the radio in my car, the songs are instantly recognizable and I have to say enjoyable. “Hero,” “I’ll Be There,” "I Still Believe,” “Endless Love” with Luther Vandross, and “Vision Of Love” cover familiar ground. I even enjoyed hearing her duet with Boys II Men, “One Sweet Day,” which was played to death in the mid 1990s.
This release is a different type Mariah Carey album. Without her faster and hip hop songs, it is smoother as it puts the focus squarely on her vocals which has always been her greatest attribute and saving grace..
The only downside to the album is that the material has all been previously released and is readily available. If, however, you have only dabbled in her large catalogue of releases or appreciate the concept behind this compilation then it should be a definite buy.
In the final analysis The Ballads stands on its own as a celebration of two decades of some of Mariah Carey’s best work. It should appeal to young and old alike and expand her appreciation society by at least a generation.