Upon the occasion of Diana Ross’ first album of original music in more than 21 years, let’s start with the elephant in the room: that album cover.
When you’re as youthful as the 77 year old Ross still is, it borders on maddening to see a photo (albeit a gorgeous one) from the mid-1990s adorning the cover of her new album, Thank You.
But since I am not in the habit of telling a diva what photograph she can use for her own album cover, I’ll stay in my lane and focus on the music.
Leading up to Thank You’s early November release, I was tentative about listening to it. After Ross had been absent from the recording studio for so many years, what would she sound like?
And then there was the pandemic to think about. I wondered whether the coronavirus, and the fear about it that I’m sure Ross felt along with the rest of us, had finally dampened her coquettish pipes?
I should have known better. With Diana Ross, it ain’t over ‘til the skinny girl sings — and sing she does on the sparkling, ebullient new Thank You. As high profile music releases go this fall, my home girl from Detroit has almost left me asking “Adele who?”
Thank You’s highlights include the buoyant title track; the hopeful “If The World Just Danced”; “I Still Believe” which features a deceptively mellow intro that quickly transports us to the nearest club; the jazzy “Count On Me”; and “Tomorrow,” which should be Ross’ return to the top of the dance charts. With Ross’ crystalline voice and the song’s explosive horns blasting full tilt, you won’t be able to hold still while listening to it: “Tomorrow starts with me! And you! And you!”
Other album standouts include the benedictory “Beautiful Love,” which sounds like a private message from Ross to her children or grandchildren, and “Time To Call,” which is tailor made to close Ross’ upcoming concerts.
But Thank You reaches its apex with “The Answer’s Always Love.” Like I did with the rest of the ballads on the album, I listened to the Siedah Garrett composition picturing the regal Ross as she probably recorded it, in a comfy bath robe, sweat pants, and Ugg boots, weave slightly askew, in her home studio in the middle of the pandemic.
“You say I’m just a dreamer, but I believe it’s a good thing,” Ross movingly sings, introducing the song’s chorus in a register that’s a bit lower than we’re accustomed to from her. When the legend pushes her way through the song’s bridge, she dispels doubts about whether she could still hit that highest of high notes.
CLICK HERE to read freelance writer MPC’s full review.