Disclosure: I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but opinions are my own.
Mary J Blige's The London Sessions drops December 2nd on iTunes and Amazon , but when I got offered the chance to get advance copy, I was beyond excited. It felt like Christmas had come early. Y'all don't understand, I grew up listening to the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. My sisters and I used to get our paddle brushes and sing our hearts out.
Whatever we going through, hard times or good times, Mary had song that was perfect for conveying just what we wanted to say. More than 15 years later Mary is still making songs that can serve as the soundtrack to our lives. Having sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, I'm sure other fans feel the same.
What most excited me about The London Sessions was the fact that Mary recorded this album in London and collaborated with some of my favorite artists including Sam Smith. So, I knew going in this album was going to have a different sound in terms of melodies and tempos, but I had no doubt that Mary would still deliver with the heartfelt and soul touching lyrics we the fans have come to love and expect from her. Below is the official track list for her latest album and my first impression/thought of each song.
1. Therapy: My first impression of this song was that it reminded me of the late Amy Winehouse's Rehab and that Sam Smith must have helped to write it. It has a similar bluesy jazz feel, but unlike Winehouse, Mary is all for her therapy as she sings, "Why would I spend the rest of my days unhappy? Why would I spend the rest of this year alone, when I go [to] therapy?" This is my second favorite song on The London Sessions.
2. Doubt: Underdog anthem. Those were the first words that came to mind listening to Mary sing about how so many people doubted she'd find success or achieve her dreams. While this song is inspirational in its own right, it's also bittersweet listening to Mary talk about how she had to shed some of her friendships along the way due hateration from her own crew.
However, despite the lack of support, Mary urges us to not doubt ourselves, but keep on persevering because one day we'll be calling the shouts and pulling the strings. I really loved the clip of Sam Smith talking about how down earth Mary is and that it's her humbleness that allows her to connect with her fans. Without a doubt this is my number one favorite song on this album and it will probably get the most play.
3. Not Loving You: The piano on this song is beautiful. Not Loving You definitely struck an emotional cord with me and I found myself shedding a few tears. This is a song about others not being able to love you until you love yourself. At the end of day no amount of faking it can truly cover up the essence of you truly are.
I connected with song instantly on a personal level because I can relate to not letting people love me because I didn't love myself. Also, I watched the same situation with my parents growing up. Mary has this way of taking you to these raw places in your life with her lyrics and that's what this song did for me.
4. When You're Gone: I'm a sucker for a good guitar sound/rift and this song has it. "I'm not alone until you leave me," Mary sings and I know that feeling. Relationships are rocky and sometimes you never know what you have until it's gone. Don't sweat that small stuff and allow it to turn into huge blowups.
5. Right Now: Can I just say that after hearing her slay this pop/dance club record, I have no doubt that Mary is one of the few artists who is truly versatile when it comes to switching up music styles. It still had a little blues in it and complemented the soulfulness of her voice. Right Now is that song you dedicate to that boo that tried it. You have to let him/her know, you ain't wit the drama. You can check out the video below.
6. My Loving: Think of a toned down Beyonce's Partition with the tempo of C&C Music Factory's Do You Wanna Get Funky, this what it would sound like. My Loving is definitely a grown up love song that you can send out to your husband/wife to let him/her know that "ain't nothing good as my love" to quote Mary herself. With it's very upbeat tempo you can really get your groove or voguing on.
7. Long Hard Look: "Every life is different like every love is different, you never could judge them by another." The grass is not greener on the other side and when relationships get hard before you walk away, "take a long hard look" at the situation. Nine times out of ten, your marriage/relationship will be worth saving.
8. Whole Damn Year: Mary got real on this one with lyrics like, "Winter took most of my heart/And Spring punched me right in the stomach/ Summer some looking for blood/And by Autumn I was left with nothing/It took a whole damn year to repair my body/It took a whole damn year."
If you know anything about Mary's past then you'll definitely get the impression that this song is almost like a letter to or conversation with her husband explaining that while she wants to be all in, it's still scary giving so much of herself because she's been seriously hurt in past relationships repeatedly. Bad relationships, especially those where physical and emotional abuse are present take a long time to get over and when do meet The One, we need them to patient with us because we're still healing. And yes, it might just take a Whole Damn Year, but hang in there because it'll be worth it once you earn our trust.
9. Nobody But You: A mid tempo boo thang shoutout song is how I like to think of this one. Let your boo know that he/she is the only one and they don't need to have any worries because you're not going anywhere. In you're in it for the long haul.
10. Pick Me Up: OMG! The horn on this song is everything y'all. Just like the title, this song has a very Pick Me Up feel that will make you feel like you're in paradise on the beach sipping something exotic with your love.
11. Follow: I consider this to be a warning song about following the crowd. Life is too short to be doing what everybody else is doing, especially if they're not doing the right thing. You have to be you and either "Give it all or give it nothing. Give it all or give it up." Two snaps and a handclap for this one!
12. Worth My Time: Of all the other blues/ R&B-ish songs featured on The London Sessions, I thought this one felt the most like a signature MJB love ballad. "I won't give up if you make it worth my time." Love is worth fighting for, but we have to give our spouses or significant others a reason to fight for us and vice versa.
Overall, I feel like this one of Mary's more intimate albums and I'm very excited for other MJB fans to hear it in its entirety. This is definitely one of my top 3 favorite albums of 2015 hands down. She took a chance and stepped out of the R&B box a little bit. While a lot of the songs are mid to up tempo beats, that didn't take away from the personal connection I've always felt to her song lyrics. In my opinion this risk paid off.
Don't forget to follow the Queen of R&B on Facebook, Twitter and the Official Mary J Blige website as well as checking out the Mary J Blige Vevo channel on YouTube for music and more.
What is your favorite Mary J Blige song? Are you planning on picking up The London Sessions?