Album Remarks & Appraisals:
UK pressing of the R&B diva's 2007 album features three bonus tracks: 'If You Love Me' (Edit), 'Hello It's Me' and 'Mirror'. Growing Pains is Mary J. Blige's eighth studio album. After a tumultuous period in the '90s which saw the R&B and Soul diva battle demons both privately and professionally, this album documents her final steps to personal happiness as uplifting single 'Just Fine' demonstrates. As a positive record, it highlights the emotional depth in Blige who sounds more confident and mature than ever before. It also includes a guest appearance from rapper Ludacris. 19 tracks. Polydor. 2008.
Rolling Stone (p.129) - 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "[The] songs have the stuff to fight back.....[Certain] tracks remind us how tough this sweet-voiced diva can be..."
Rolling Stone (p.113) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Top Albums of the Year 2007" -- "[T]he songwriting is her finest in years."
Entertainment Weekly (p.55) - "She shines on the buttery bedroom groove of the Neptunes-produced 'Til the Morning'..." -- Grade: B
It's no accident that Mary J. Blige is an icon on the urban contemporary scene, in large part because each new album--and 2007's GROWING PAINS is her eighth--finds her more self-assured as a singer, a lyricist, and a person. Like 2005's THE BREAKTHROUGH, GROWING PAINS delivers a mature Mary J., one who's faced down her demons and emerged triumphant. The tough-as-nails, confessional nature of her work is still what gives it its distinctive stamp, but Blige's sonic palette continues to grow as well.
From the heavily hip-hop-tinged "Work That," to the 1980s-sounding pop of "Fade Away," to the swirling balladry of "Work In Progress (Growing Pains)," the album isn't afraid to hop genres. Blige's work has always had a wide appeal, but GROWING PAINS has tracks that move from the club to the bedroom to adult alternative radio while still sounding 100% the artist's own. Help from the likes of Ne-Yo, the Neptunes, Ludacris, Usher, and Jazze Pha, among others, gives the set star-quality, but this is Blige's show: her voice, her style, and her sense of personal conviction shine through loud and clear.
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- Mary J. Blige Smooth Jazz Tribute (The Smooth Jazz All Stars)