Album: Mary J. Blige, My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1) (Interscope/Geffen)

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The Independent Culture

The high priestess of emotional turmoil returns to her apparently turbulent personal life on this latest album, vacillating between obsessive devotion, self-assertive morale-boosting and the kind of masochistic abasement depicted in "Mr Wrong".

The usual associates – Busta Rhymes, Nas, Beyoncé, Lil Wayne – act as a Greek chorus, and at first the sinuous charms of songs like "Midnight Drive" and "Ain't Nobody" smooth over the bumpy emotional terrain. But by the time she's berating some partner for not listening to her, your sympathies wane. Things improve: "Need Someone" has a graceful, tender touch, while "Someone to Love Me" surprises with the understated tread and haunted manner of Dr John's "Gris Gris".

DOWNLOAD THIS Someone to Love Me; Need Someone; Midnight Drive; Ain't Nobody