Mariah Carey

Columbia Records, 1997




With 81 million albums sold, she ain't broke (either way). So it's natural you see a lot of the old stuff on "the new one"; think of Butterfly as a new and improved Daydream, with thinly disguised samples from the packs of bubblegum that preceded.

The title track is another trademark torch song for Carey. It begins and ends like "Hero"; the middle is a mix of "Til The End Of Time" and "I Am Free". The message of emancipation might reflect her recent separation (not divorce) from Tommy Mottola and is a little too open for speculation. And like "Hero", it probably would make a better impression on a live stage (do I hear a live video coming up?).

"The Roof" and "Fourth Of July" both come from the same part of Carey's brain-soul "Underneath The Stars" came from. This single has been reviewed by "The Daily Vault" (waaaaay back when we had two hits a day) and I can't say anything has changed; Cory Rooney brings some better background which is something my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Daydream seriously lacked.

"My All" is a mellow "I Don't Wanna Cry" but doesn't work well in the studio; neither did "Looking In" on the last album, but it managed to garner some adamant supporters regardless. "Outside" also smacks of "Looking In", but only through subject matter (outside, looking in. It's a song about fame's consequences). Its play is also very weird; I'm still trying to decipher her full meaning (something I never had to do with a Carey song before).

"The Beautiful Ones", a remake of then-Prince's song, features the one-hit-wonder R&B group Dru Hill. It's a little unfair to use the same background then-Prince used then, but what I feel is what I feel; it's better than the then-Prince version. The soulful exchange is less grating than "One Sweet Day" had been, though less spiritual.

The collaborations "Honey", "Babydoll" and "Breakdown" all satisfyingly smack of enough Carey. "Honey", despite Puff Daddy's sample-happy style, lets Carey cavort her vocals in a little-used low-head voice range. "Babydoll" isn't as weird as everyone dreaded it to be and it displays Cory Rooney's finger in the production pie very prominently. "Breakdown" has Carey rapping like a female member of Bone Thugs and Harmony and I wish Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone did more than just the bridge section.

The best track, however, is "Close My Eyes" simply because the rest of the songs have been done already ("Fly Away [Butterfly Reprise]")? Ever heard of the Morales remixes of "Always Be My Baby"? This track, with lyrics of self-discovery, catches Carey in a rarely contemplative mood which had been attempted earlier only in "Do You Think Of Me". "I was a wayward child / with the weight of the world / that I held deep inside / life was a winding road / and I learned many things / little ones shouldn't know".

She chose not to give up too much control (most of the songs are either produced or co-produced by her, and she is amongst the rare singer-songwriters in the R&B genre). I had hoped for a lot more experiment with some hard-core hip-hop but, as pop-rooted as the album is, at least these results are not half-baked. Mariah Carey's sixth LP in her seventh professional year may not have her as free as the title suggests but in the end, that certain magic (and Sony marketing skills) has prevailed to sweep fans up and have them asking for more.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 JB 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 Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.