Christina Aguilera hasn’t released an album in about 6 years, which loosely translates to a lifetime in pop music. 2018 seems to be the year of comebacks for the pop acts. While some have proved successful like Jessie J, some just flat-lined like Justin Timberlake.
The Genie in a Bottle singer has a new and revamped sound, a far cry from the bubble gum radio-designed hits. She is back to crooning ballads to showcase her dramatic and extravagant vocals per usual. Theatre and dramatic flair have always been part of the loud and abrasive Christina charm. It’s part of what made the blockbuster must-watch movie Burlesque such a great movie.
Liberation is the songstress’ 8th studio album filled with 15 tracks. There are a couple of features and collaborations on there from Ty Dolla Sign, Kanye West, Demi Lovato and Keida with minimalist production which works to front Xtina’s vocal prowess.
In this microwave popcorn era of music where the millennials always expect turnt up club songs, this is not the album for that. These are all ballads and I am definitely not mad at it. Even Rihanna has ballads on her albums.
Sick of sittin’ has some funk with dark guitar strings and Xtina’s signature growl meshing to produce an empowering piece laced with strong lyricism; Don’t try to tell me I’m crazy/It’s good pay, but it’s slavery/I can’t live with these chains on me/I have to get free”
Her duet with Demi Lovato on Fall in Line soars in the album. In the height of MeToo and TimesUp movement, this is a collaboration that speaks against the pressure and vanity that is forced down the throats of women, a message that was very much needed. Now, their live performance on the 2018 Billboard Awards however did not meet the expectation as the overall result was a shouting match between the 2 screaming divas.
The album dipped post Fall in Line. I cringed when Right Moves came on. The reggeaton collaboration with Keida felt more than a bit disjointed and I’m just like when did Xtina transition to Jamaican? Did I miss something?
It did not feel right, it was still an okay song though, I guess. In truth, we could definitely have done without this song. Right moves transitioned to Like I do peppered with sexual innuendos in classic Xtina Dirty heyday style. This was executed against some melodic whistles.
The album starts to peak again with Twice, a gripping track in what seems to be a twisted love letter to Hollywood, Christina seems to admit that to follow her passions she needs to accept the dark sides of the industry; My forever and my end/My forgiveness and my sin/I have sacrificed the most of my youth/Is it treason? Is it true?/That the worst I won’t undo/Only enemy I have in love is you
Masochist is an absolute gem that touches on an attraction to a toxic relationship, something longtime Xtina fans will know she’s touched on in Walk Away, a standout ballad from 2002’s Stripped.
There are a couple of fillers on the project like Right Moves which feels like it was left out of Rihanna’s Anti. But there is a lot of Aguilera’s sincere authenticity that is weaved throughout Liberation, creating a lot of replay value.
She runs through a variety of moods, from flirty to depressed to joyful to furious–each a response, or so we’ve been trained to think, to some real-life situations.
In conclusion, Liberation is a beautiful album, diving into the soul of music and exploring with different sounds to create an interesting narrative and tell a moving story
Notable favorites; Sick of Sittin’, Fall In Line, Twice, Masochist
Overall Rating; 7.8/10