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Whitney Houston was blessed with one of the greatest voices of all time, she tragically died earlier this year, I was devastated to hear the news and thought back to when another all time great died before their time, Michael Jackson. I think when great talents die early it's important to look at their legacy and remember them at the height of their powers in their particular field. Looking back at Whitney's career the huge ballads stand out but if you listen to her most recent albums she still had a great voice and her songs were still full of feeling and the up tempo tracks were very catchy and had some great beats.
This album was the first album on the biggest record deal in music history with Arista/BMG, She renewed her contract with the record label for an incredible $100m for six albums. Just Whitney was her fifth studio release and was released in 2002, a year after she had signed the record deal. The album featured four singles and collaborations with her then Husband Bobby Brown and also Carlos Santana. Babyface also featured on acoustic guitar and keyboards and also sang backing vocals on some tracks. The album featured stellar production from the likes of Babyface, LA Reid, Bobby Brown, Whitney, Missy Elliot and also Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs.
This is a track that was clearly directed at the media attention that Whitney got, some of the attention was of course warranted though with the way she was treating her body with all the drugs she had been taking but this is a catchy up tempo track with a thumping beat and some excellent hooks. It has a nice flow and gets the album off to a vibrant start but maybe she would have cleaned up her act if she had realised the truth in some of the media reporting.
2.) Tell Me No
This is a fabulous track, It's an up tempo ballad with catchy beats and some excellent string backing. I love the way that the song builds and her voice is really excellent and she deals with the high notes very well indeed. It also has a rocky feel which is topped off with the outstanding guitar solo from Carlos Santana which really compliments the track. This is one of the best tracks on the album for sure and a collaboration that works so well.
3.) One of those days
This is a catchy track which opens with some punchy beats and gentle keyboards, Whitney's vocals move along well and the funky hooks and loops add a nice touch as does the smooth backing vocals. It samples The Isley Brothers' song "Between the Sheets" which was released in 1983. This track is about when you are feeling good about yourself and you can just get away from your troubles and have a good time. It's a reminder of the good times of Whitney Houston. It was the second single from the album.
4.) Things you say
This is a rather lovely track, It opens with a bluesy organ part and then the beat comes in, this is a soulful R&B track which is one of the highlights of the album, Whitney's voice is on fine form with a laid back vocal which develops throughout the song. The track is about the things that your partner says to make you feel better when you are down or just saying "I love you" when you need to hear it. This is an excellent track and up there with the best on the album.
5.) My Love
This is the collaboration with Husband Bobby Brown, His voice is a pleasant surprise with a relatively powerful and emotive vocal. This is an excellent collaboration which shows their love at their best away from all the drug taking and violent arguments. This track features excellent vocals and is a very good tribute to when their relationship was good. It's got a great chorus and is one of the best tracks on the album, Worth a listen.
6.) Love that Man
This is a catchy tribute to Bobby Brown, the sweet female backing vocals are smooth and add a nice touch as does the catchy beat and bass hooks. Whitney's vocal is sweet and her vocal tone hints at a happiness. Again this shows the best of their relationship before the drugs and arguments overcame them. It's feel is the most like a Pop track on the album and works really well.
7.) Try It on My Own
This is a beautiful ballad which sounds like it was made for a Movie Soundtrack just like the great "I Will Always Love You". This is Whitney at her best it's a powerful ballad about having the self confidence to overcome any doubts or fears. This track was produced by Babyface and was co written amongst others by Babyface and Carole Bayer Sager who also wrote for Michael Jackson. Whitney's voice is superb here and shows all the power and grace of her best work of the 90s. It's an absolutely brilliant track.
8.) Dear John Letter
Back to the uptempo tracks here, this is a catchy track with some taut beats and some nice licks. This is a letter to a partner to tell them it's over. The female equivalent is a "Dear Jane letter". This track shows the ups and downs of the Marriage to Bobby Brown as she can't go through with actually leaving the letter. Whitney's vocals are flowing and expressive and this is overall a pretty decent track but lacks a little progression which would have taken it to the next level. Good track though.
This is another catchy track, It's got some great taut beats and Whitney's expressive vocals work well on the track. This track is about doing things for yourself and not because someone else tells you too. It's about believing in yourself. It has a good message about being yourself and doing what you want to do. Unlike the previous track this track develops very well and Whitney shows off her amazing vocal ability. The female backing vocals are again very good.
10.) You Light Up My Life
This is a final ballad and is another excellent track, It is about longing for that someone special to come into your life and looking back on that when you have someone special. This is a classic example of the talent she had, Superb vocals and the structure is superb, she really knew how to build up to the final vocal soar. I love the sound of the drums and the backing orchestra which really build the emotive feel of the track. This is Whitney Houston at her best. Superb stuff.
The album is one of her best works of her later years and showed clearly that she still had that amazing voice and her songs were still of an excellent quality. The best tracks on the album stack up with her best work and the tracks I believe warrant that comparison are the likes of "Try it on my own", "You Light Up My Life" and the fabulous collaboration with Carlos Santana "Tell Me No". This is overall a very good album and I would recommend any fan of Whitney Houston to get this album if they don't already have it. It's worthy of four stars from me.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Tell Me No
3 One Of Those Days
4 Things You Say
5 My Love feat. Bobby Brown
6 Love That Man
7 On My Own
8 Dear John Letter
10 You Light Up My Life
11 Whatchulookinat? (P. Diddy Remix)