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Mariah Carey is restrained ★★½

EntertainmentMariah Carey
Mariah Carey keeps her range in check on her enchanting new album

The music on Mariah Carey's new album "Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse" would be hard pressed to follow the inscrutable splendor of its title. But take her word for it — this record really is enjoyably elusive. No one doubts Carey's ability as a belter, but now she's cut a perfectly modest, sonically contemporary album without any need to show off her glass-shattering range.

"Thirsty" is far and away the most overt thing on the record, a ratchet-y track that puts Carey's sex-kitten harmonies atop snare rolls and stuttering vocal samples. But the rest of the record is unexpectedly low key.

"Dedicated (Ft. Nas)" has some of her guest's '90s New York glow in its production; her duet with Miguel, "#Beautiful," is actually much more timeless and indebted to vintage R&B than its unfortunate hashtag title would suggest. "You're Mine (Eternal)" is the album's highlight, with jittery rave synths bolstering a feather-soft breakup lament.

A generation of today's pop singers like Ariana Grande have grown up idolizing Carey, and her sound is again back in vogue. What a treat that this daftly titled album really is a statement of a still-relevant musical identity as well.

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Mariah Carey

"Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse"

Def Jam

Two and a half stars

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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