Thursday, December 2, 2021

Review: Diana Ross gives us hope for “Thank you”

Thank You Diana Ross (Decca Records / Universal Music Group)

Diana Ross’s first album in 15 years breaks through our current cynicism and escapes despair. Thank you is a warm embrace of music, not so much a rigidly constructed pop machine as a mood.

“It never rains forever,” Ross sings in one song. On the other: “Turn it up / And give love a chance.” On the third, she asks, “What if we could find a way / To laugh and love and pray?”

Thank you is a shimmering, blissful and sparkling wave of optimism, like an invitation to a champagne party on a plump cloud. Our hostess is full of goodwill, her voice is warm and hospitable. No velvet rope. Welcome everyone. “No matter what question / I know the answer / Always love the answer,” she sings.

On a 13-track album, Ross sits at the intersection of 70s disco, 80s electronics, 90s house, and 2020s production savvy. There are two speeds – shimmery ballads and bootie shakers.

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But make no mistake about the fast ones. There is nothing obscene here. The song “Let’s Do It” is not about spurring someone on: “Let’s do it,” she sings. Let’s make life better together.

In In Your Heart, Ross encourages us to “reach out and just touch someone” – a nod to her 1970 hit “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”. She is revising the opening lyrics of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for “Beautiful Love”.

Thank You is Ross’s first collection of original songs since 1999’s Every Day Is a New Day. Cynics may find this overly sentimental, but is it a serious crime? She wants to thank you, but we should be the one to thank you.

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Mark Kennedy is in http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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