Spin (6/03, pp.99-100) - "...[The album] pushes all the right issue buttons..." - Grade: B-
Entertainment Weekly (4/25/03, pp.147-8) - "...Madonna has developed a mixture of acoustic and techno, of full-throated crooning and tight-larynxed hectoring....Blunt, questing, decisive music..." - Rating: B-
Uncut (6/03, p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...This may be the truest Madonna LP since 1992's EROTICA. Her vocals are more relaxed when backed by Mirwais..."
Vibe (6/03, p.155) - 4 out of 5 - "...The formula she developed on her previous album, MUSIC - acoustic-guitar ditties dressed up with club-friendly electronica - is still as distinctive as it is danceable..."
Mojo (Publisher) (5/03, pp.86-8) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...AMERICAN LIFE is revealing..."
This is an Enhanced CD, which contains both regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files.
AMERICAN LIFE Limited Edition includes a 2 sided 23" x 35" poster and postage size Madonna stamp sheet.
Personnel: Madonna (vocals); Mirawais Ahmadzai (guitar, programming, background vocals); Stuart Price (piano); Nicky Brown Choir, London Community Gospel Choir.
Producers: Madonna, Mirwais Ahmadzai, Missy Elliot, Nisan Stewart, Craig X. Brockman.
Re-teaming with French electro-pop producer Mirwais, (who also lent his talents to 2000's MUSIC), Madonna uses her perspective as a globally famous ex-pat living in England to comment on the USA's spiritual state throughout AMERICAN LIFE. Prominently featuring plenty of acoustic guitar among the synth-soaked swooshes and Euro-disco beats, the Material Girl ends up going for a more stripped-down sound. This technique works particularly well on the opening title cut, which finds Ms. Ciccone rapping about bodyguards, soy lattes, gardeners and other upper-class perks that don't seem to make the spiritual side of life any better.
"Hollywood" does an even better job addressing the downside of fame while pumping in a few more hooks. Faith in family fuels the lush "Nothing Fails," with its unexpected gospel-chorus outro, while amore inspires the light and tight "Love Profusion," and insecurity plagues the solo-acoustic "X-Static Process." Of course all these songs of self-discovery and spirituality didn't stop Madonna from including "Die Another Day," the Euro-techno title song from the James Bond film of the same name.
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