Blige Airs Growing Pains

8th record a celebration of "hard-won happiness," says Boston Globe
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2007 5:13 PM CST
Singer Mary J. Blige performs during a taping of BET's "106 and Park" at CBS Studios Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 in New York. Blige's latest album "Growing Pains" hits stores Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Mary J. Blige has moved on from empowerment to soulful diva on her first disc in two years, the Boston Globe’s Joan Anderman writes. "A celebration of the artist's hard-won happiness," Growing Pains won Anderman over by "revealing her weaknesses." Blige still urges listeners to stand tall on a joyful "Just Fine," but now sings a slow “I need you to rescue me" on "Feel Like a Woman."

MJB has “lost or just outgrown the brassy urgency of her twenties,” says Rolling Stone’s Robert Christgau—but he salutes her return to hip-hop that informed her early career. The retro style imbues proud proclamations like, “I work this relationship nine to five.” But while her past confessions felt like "painful late-night outbursts," her new tunes "sound more like she's had a lot of therapy."