Album: Whitney Houston, I Look to You (Arista)

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The Independent Culture

"Don't call it a comeback, no, I been here for years/Through all the drama and the pain and all the tears", sings Whitney on "Salute", one of a couple of songs here custom-built for her by R Kelly.

But she protests too much: I Look To You is all about the soap-opera that has been Whitney's life over the past decade, irrespective of which of her collaborators actually wrote the lyrics. Britney/Gaga electro accomplice Fernando Garibay's "Nothin' But Love" is an "I Will Survive" for the 21st century, touching lightly on her tribulations before regally asserting, "I could hold on to pain, but that ain't what my life's about". Both Kelly's title-track and Diane Warren's "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" cannily key into Whitney's gospel roots, with David Foster's tympani-studded, big-ballad arrangement for the latter gathering mass as she overcomes her crash: "In my darkest hour, my faith kept me alive". Elsewhere, Alicia Keys offers sisters-together assistance that helps Whitney re-connect with her dormant talent on the jaunty single "Million Dollar Bill". But despite a sudden transformation into hustling disco mode part way through, the surprise success here is her take on Leon Russell's classic "A Song For You", whose "My Way" – style mood, so perfect for a diva comeback, she delivers with an aplomb and restraint that few of her peers could equal.

Download this A Song For You, Million Dollar Bill, Nothin' But Love, Salute