By: Elorm Nutakor
Mary J. Blige is known for the R&B and Hip-Hop Soul sound that has dominated her music since the beginning of her career. However, with her new album, The London Sessions, she experiments more and utilizes different instrumentation to accompany her iconic voice. The London Sessions is directly influenced by Blige’s collaboration with UK music duo, Disclosure, on the remix of their song “F for You.” By moving to London and working with British producers and writers, Mary J. Blige has curated a sound that blends R&B with UK garage, grime, and deep house sounds.
The album’s songs range from piano driven songs like “Therapy” and “Whole Damn Year,” to deep house songs like “Right Now” and “Nobody But You.” In addition, the album features commentary from UK artists like Sam Smith who aided Blige during the writing and recording process. Sam Smith’s commentary in particular touches on how much he was influenced by some of Blige’s earlier work.
Mary J. Blige’s own commentary is about delivering the same influential and therapeutic lyrics no matter what her situation in life is. In this sense, Mary J. Blige has not changed because her lyrics generally focus on love and other uplifting themes. Tracks like “Pick Me Up” and Follow convey this positive tone that prevails through the album.
The London Sessions represents a clash between the American music culture and that of the Brits. It acknoledges the influence that Blige has had on British artists as well as the influence that the United Kingdom has had on her. This is an album that could introduce Blige to music listeners who are not keen on the R&B genre, but, even though it is a change of pace, the album still rings true to Blige’s sound.