Whitney Houston: The Greatest Album Of All?

I fell in love with Whitney Houston the first time I saw the “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” video. I stuck with her forever, through “The Bodyguard” and “Just Whitney.” But circa 2000, we hit a bumpy road as her marriage with Bobby Brown got seriously rocky and the rumor mill seemed pretty convincing that she was having drug issues. Then there was “Being Bobby Brown,” and no one ever thought she’d come back from discussing Bobby’s poop. But finally, she’s put out a new album, I Look To You, out today. The album is a collaboration with music mogul Clive Davis, and features ditties from the likes of Akon, R. Kelly and Alicia Keys. And, phew, the reviews look good. Here’s what the critics are saying.

“Though Houston sounds surprisingly thin as the song begins in a lower register, she gains strength as she begins firing off high, hummingbird trills. She’s comfortable in this pseudo-gospel mode, and with her great control and technical polish, it’s a fine vehicle for punctuating her comeback, a show-stopper in the making.” [The Chicago Tribune]

I Look to You gets it right. It is a finely calibrated, just-modern-enough mix of mom-friendly club bangers and dauntless ballads that, in retrospect, seems like the only album she could have made.” [The Washington Post]

I Look to You is a prayer, a desperate appeal to faith: ‘After all my strength is gone, in you I can be strong.’ Now her voice is thicker and lower, and her improvisatory phrases are shorter. They curve downward as if tugged by gravity, making her approachable, even sympathetic. She’s tentatively climbing back into the pop machinery, no longer invincible but showing a diva’s determination.” [New York Times]

“Houston sounds huskier and chestier on ‘I Look to You.’ A thicker tone has replaced her bell-like one. And, for the most part, she avoids most of the skyscraper notes she used to mount in her sleep.” [NY Daily News]

“Houston’s famous voice brings a gravity that the album’s often generically worded ballads lack.” [Entertainment Weekly]