The debut album from Christina Aguilera may have come out almost 20 years ago, but not even the staunchest of critics would deny the fact her voice remains a total powerhouse. Liberation is the singer’s 8th album and features the likes of Demi Lovato and 2Chainz – something that comes at an interesting junction for Aguilera, where she is trying to win the hearts younger demographic perhaps a little too hard.
It’s hard to really tell when this record actually begins, first up we have the titular track; which is a strange mixture of intensely emotional strings interspersed with baby noises & dramatic whisperings. This then fades into the even more confusing Searching For Maria, a 25 second high pitched alien that will just make you wonder what happened to this Maria character.
Finally, we find Maria as Xtina and a very young sounding Michael Jackson sample fight one another for centre stage. Taking a thoroughly more hip-hop feel, Aguilera is finally able to find a percussion with enough oomph to withstand her notoriously powerful voice. All of the interjecting spoken word pieces from children like on Dreamers are not what one would expect to find on a pop album. It’s great to see a socially conscious artist advocating for protection of youngsters, but many of these interludes feel like nuts & bolt add ons thrown on in the last minute – they simply break up what would otherwise be strong themes.
Fall In Line enlists Demi Lovato; but again, it seems Aguilera is fighting for the attention whilst her co-star equally wages battle. The vocals are certainly there, but it gets to a point when one realises Aguilera is just yelling rather than singing intelligible words. Coming from the woman that gave us Dirrty, near closing track Masochist is not the saucy affair that is to be expected. Instead, we get a ballad about loving the wrong one and finding it impossible to walk away. It’s still a little bit saucy, but in a more grown up way.
There is a lot to unpack from this record. Younger guest stars aside, Liberation lacks the sincerity and instead comes off a little bit gung ho. Christina Aguilera will always be an iconic singer & performer, but this record wouldn’t be the one you’d make the doubters listen to in a last ditch attempt to change their minds.