I Love You

Diana Ross

EMI/Manhattan, 2007


REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


I Love You is the sound of lifeblood being drained from Diana Ross. Touring under this album could be an even bigger mistake than the Supremes “reunion” fiasco ever was.  But, like all divas, Miss Ross does whatever she pleases, no matter what the critics say.

It’s been so long since Diana Ross released her last studio album that I’ve lost count of how many years it’s been. To be fair, I wouldn’t even count I Love You as a studio album.  What I am hoping is that she’s just gearing up for the real deal -- an album of all-new material. Recycling old, dreary love songs simply isn’t going to cut it, especially ones like these that are seriously lacking in energy. Diana says that she was inspired to record these songs, but it doesn’t show.

Sure, Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow have found success in releasing albums of covers, but at least their versions had some personality behind them. Ross attempts to do the same, but with all the tabloid baggage that goes along with her reputation, she is taking a bigger risk of falling on her face with the material she has chosen. The biggest stumbles on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 I Love You tend to overshadow the stronger performances.

The remake of Harry Nilsson’s “Remember” is the song that opens and closes the album.  The listener is immediately hooked in by Ross’ unmistakable voice. She manages to show of her range quite effectively on this one track, though the rest of the album isn’t nearly as good. Too many of the other songs -- particularly the well-known ones -- suffer from a lack of inventiveness when it comes to putting her own stamp on the proceedings. Had she pushed the envelope instead of merely sticking to the traditional interpretations, she may have been doing something special. 

When Annie Lennox put out her covers album, Medusa, she really made the material her own in giving each song a fresh, contemporary spin. Here, the term “musical wallpaper” comes to mind. Songs like “Only You” and “Take My Breath Away” only cement Ross' age (which I will not reveal, as a gentleman) and slow the disc to a crawl.

The one new song to be found on I Love You is the title track. The best thing I can say about it is that I’m just glad Michael Jackson didn’t record it first. I mean, do we really need to hear Michael tell us he loves us again in this lifetime? Diana’s take on “I Want You” is a little better, even besting Madonna's 10-year-old version. Ditto for the Bacharach chestnut “The Look Of Love,” which has nice Spanish guitar on it.

The two other standout performances are the ever-reliable torch song “You Are So Beautiful” and the '50s-style “To Be Loved.” The latter actually transported me back to Diana’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” days.

I was a little surprised to find “Lovely Day” within this selection of tracks, especially considering it was most recently remade on Whitney Houston’s soundtrack to The Bodyguard.  Maybe Diana and Whitney are friends? Still, it makes me wonder how Diana Ross really intends on shining with a lackluster album coupled with new competition from the likes of Whitney, Beyoncé and the Dreamgirls cast. 

All Ross can do at this point is rely on her status as a legend in hopes that the world will still be paying attention.  Her vocal abilities are undeniable, but as an aging diva in need of a complete makeover, it will take more than a good singing voice to make it in today’s marketplace.

Rating: C-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI/Manhattan, and is used for informational purposes only.