If you’re looking for a new R&B album to listen to throughout this month, check out the notable Mary J. Blige’s Good Morning Gorgeous, which delivers in a way that the genre hasn't done in a very long time. Blige’s new album seemed to come out of nowhere for me and many other casual fans when it was released this past Friday. But for many of the people I know who listen to her, they were pleased to see that she and many other Black artists were releasing music this February.
Good Morning Gorgeous is Blige’s fourteenth studio album, following her 2017 album Strength of a Woman. Her latest album explores new and familiar territories, and includes a handful of featured artists. She collaborated with the artists Anderson .Paak, DJ Khalid and Usher along with a few lesser known artists.
The titular song, the album’s seventh track, feels like a car ride with my mom during elementary school. Its calm musical vibe and Blige’s soulful singing are very similar to a lot of her past works without being derivative.
I’d say my favorite song from the album without question is “Here With Me.” It feels like a great song to drive to and the lyrical motif is pretty groovy and easy to sing and dance to — just as long as no one is watching. Another song that I found myself listening to a lot after hearing it initially was “Failing in Love.” It has a nostalgic 90’s vibe and she does a very cool staccato throughout the verses.
Something really interesting, in relation to most of the work I’ve heard from her, is the song “On Top.” This song features trap beats, heavy bass and very little instrumentation outside of some obvious synth work. If I heard it without context, I wouldn't know it was her. I do like it, though, and I find it cool that she was willing to do something so bold when the only thing that has achieved any sort of notability that comes remotely close to this is “Just Fine” from her 2007 album Growing Pains.
Some of the core themes for the album seem to be inner love, inner peace and struggling relationships. She keeps the mood very cheerful, something that long time fans may not appreciate as much, given that this has been a trend with a lot of her newer works. However, the ballad-like delivery of these songs helps it fit well with the contemporaries in this sphere of music while still being uniquely her own.
The buzz of her latest release made headway during her performance at the Super Bowl, which was only days after the release of the album. While she hasn't had enough time to talk much about Good Morning Gorgeous, there is an interview available on NPR in which she gets to talk more about the creation of the body of work as well as her thoughts on her career. From what I was able to make of it, she doesn't have plans on ending her career anytime soon, and with her unique way of expressing emotional joy, turmoil, stress and resilience I definitely think that she's an artist to look into if you haven't already.
Feel free to listen to Blige’s new album wherever you listen to music. I would recommend this album to anyone who has been listening to the renaissance of R&B as a genre and is looking for older artists to get involved in this new movement of Black music.