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Review: Monica fails to find ‘New Life’

Monica’s “New Life” album might be too much old news.

Monica’s new album is typical post-hip-hop R&B material but lacks dynamics. Most tracks have similar backbeats with airy melodies and lackluster lyrics.

Monica might be trying to channel her inner Beyoncé lyrically, but in actuality, her songs sound dated. The songs on “New Life” are all about self-assurance, losing your man and being an independent woman – topics we’ve heard about for, well, forever.

The intro track to the album features a phone call between Monica and producer Mary J. Blige. Blige gives Monica a pep talk about being a strong mother, woman and friend. Then, as if to dictate the theme of her album, Monica breaks into song about her great new life.

Her much-anticipated duet with foe-turned-friend Brandy had potential to be something noteworthy, but seems to fall just short. Both remain very much in their comfort zones vocally and don’t seem to experiment with range or dynamic variance at all.

The singer’s lack of range, however, is only scattered throughout the album. Monica cites Whitney Houston as an inspiration artistically, but vocally she clearly asserts her originality. Monica’s gritty and heartfelt vocal performances on songs such as “Cry” and “Take a Chance” show her talent. I only wish this theme would have carried throughout all 16 tracks on the deluxe edition and shorter normal edition with just 12 tracks.

That being said, if you’re looking for a relaxing soundtrack for a lazy day, this is a great choice. The fluid, sultry melodies make for ideal background music. By the time you’re ready for something to sing along to, you’ll probably be close to “Time to Move On,” a jazzy R&B song that would make any heartbreak seem bearable.

Once you’re done focusing on that heartbreak, “New Life (Outro)” will bring you back to assertive and forward-looking lyrics that focus on a new life ahead. In typical R&B fashion, the melody remains somber, so expect to contemplate your life rather than rejoice about it.

Despite the fact that “New Life” might not be the feel-good album of the year, it’s certainly something worth listening to.

Grade: C+

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