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Back to the jazz and blues...
Back To Basics - Christina Aguilera
Member Name: AbsintheFairy
Back To Basics - Christina Aguilera
Advantages: Many strong songs
Disadvantages: A few 'filler' tracks
Back to Basics is, amazingly, the fifth studio album from Christina Aguilera. After the epic multi-genre Stripped, Back to Basics, released in 2006, took a more streamlined approach with a glamorous, retro, jazz and blues theme. One of the things that impresses me about Christina is that she is constantly reinventing herself and each of her albums sounds completely different. On top of that, Back to Basics was executive-produced by Christina herself, and reflects the sort of music she admired when she was growing up. The album consists of two discs: the second was produced with a little help from Linda Perry (who I really like).
1. Intro (Back to Basics) - Like Stripped, Back to Basics has little intros and interludes. This one sets the tone for the disc.
2. Makes Me Wanna Pray - The gospel sound of this song is really appealing.
3. Back In The Day - This one kind of describes Christina's admiration for the retro artists of old and helps explain why she chose this style of music for the album.
4. Ain't No Other Man - A great comeback song, makes a really strong impact. I find myself wanting to get up and dance!
5. Understand - A lovely retro ballad - loving the old-school crackling that kicks it off.
6. Slow Down Baby - Another slower song, quite RnB focused but has that old-fashioned sound.
7. Oh Mother - A nice ballad, but overpowered by Hurt on Disc 2, in my opinion.
8. F.U.S.S. - Not a 'proper' song really, but the references to her other hits make me smile.
9. On Our Way - Probably one of the weaker tracks, but goes well musically with the rest of the album.
10. Without You - Is very mellow, and quite different to the rest of the CD!
11. Still Dirrty - Clever reference to the original Dirrty, but in the style of the new album!
12. Here to Stay - Confident announcement from Christina.
13. Thank You (Dedication to Fans...) - This is a little bit indulgent to be honest, but if they're real fans on there, they are probably chuffed to be on this record!
This CD has some really good songs on it, and the tone is very consistent, all sounding very retro and 40s. However, I do feel that there are too many songs that aren't proper songs at all - the intro, Thank You, F.U.S.S. and Still Dirrty are all 'in-jokes' or non-songs often referring to her past career. It would be unfair to call it filler, but I do sometimes find myself skipping some of the songs on this disc.
1. Enter the Circus - As the title suggests it has a circus feel and sound to it. Rather than being a standalone song, it's more of an intro, but much better than the previous disc's intro.
2. Welcome - This is really another intro, but again it's so strong, and sets up the theme for the rest of the disc, that I can forgive it.
3. Candyman - A little bit naughty, this is the Ain't No Other Man of this disc.
4. Nasty Naughty Boy - This one is very naughty and raunchy! Not one to listen to in front of your parents. However the instruments and style of music save the song from sounding trashy.
5. I Got Trouble - A relaxed song with a jazz sound - I could imagine listening to this sitting at the table of a crowded jazz club, cigarette in one hand and drink in the other.
6. Hurt - The best ballad Christina has done, I think - even better than Beautiful. Very wistful and sad.
7. Mercy on Me - A brilliant song, it has a very Catholic feel to it and is very catchy.
8. Save Me from Myself - Christina shows her softer side on this song.
9. The Right Man - Ending the album on a positive note, this song imagines Christina waiting to get married - presumably reflecting her relationship with her then-new husband.
This second disc is my favourite - probably because of the influence of Linda Perry. There are loads of really brilliant and standout tracks on this disc.
Overall, this album is brilliant. The style of music really suits Christina's voice and personality and is very different from that of other pop acts. My one gripe is that there are too many songs that aren't really proper songs - having said that, as it's a double album anyway I can more readily forgive this. It still has more amazing tracks than most albums!
A really different, mature album from Christina - recommended.
Summary: A retro sounding album, recommended!