Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Mary J. Blige: The London Sessions [Capitol, 2014]
Blige's Brit pick-me-up has the general effect of taking a load off. Hooks of neither Swedish nor American manufacture provide a freshness--try Disclosure's on "Follow" or Naughty Boy's on "Pick Me Up"--and when she's beset by doubt, as is always going to happen with Mary, she doesn't get overwrought about it. Matched by the spare piano-and-drums of her countryman Rodney Jerkins, she contains herself even on the pain-wracked "Whole Damn Year." But though I love "Therapy" for telling us exactly where she's coming from, I wish I didn't suspect that the heal-thyself nostrum "Not Loving You" was ghostwritten by her therapist. A-