Mary J Blige

 

Stronger with Each Tear Geffen ***

Mary J Blige has never really bowed to trends over the course of her successful career, and she’s not about to start now. Still, with more than 40 million albums sold worldwide, it’s doubtful that the New Yorker cares. Her ninth album is a record you can set your watch by. Solid and dependable, it’s an enjoyable listen but never really goes stratospheric at any point. She lightly dabbles in current trends: The Onesees her vocals unnecessarily AutoTuned and features Canadian rapper Drake, while T.I.’s guest spot on the groovy Good Love is a surprising hit. As always, though, Blige is at her best simply singing her heart out, as on the Motown-inflected In the Morningand old-style soul closer Color. Not her best album, but perhaps that’s still yet to come. See maryjblige.com LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: Good Love, In the Morning