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Aguilera’s soul disc bold, basic

By |2018-01-16T06:58:23-05:00October 31st, 2017|Entertainment|

It’s easy to dog Christina Aguilera for her smutty “Dirrty” days. But, ass-less chaps or not, it’s undeniable that the girl can blow.
She’s got one helluva a voice, tailored for the musical renderings of classic soul songstresses like Etta James and Billie Holiday. “I’ve waited for some time/To get inside the minds/Of every legend I’ve ever wanted to stand beside,” she sings in the opening “Intro (Back to Basics).”
On double-disc “Back to Basics” Aguilera uses her voice to full-effect, meandering through foot-tappin’ tunes like brass-laden crunk number “Ain’t No Other Man” and the ’40s-style swing song “Candyman.”
Aguilera sounds right in place with the soul sisters of yesteryears with her powerhouse belting, but it’s the zesty production, which lacked on “Back’s” predecessor “Stripped,” that jump-starts the set.
But while the production takes off and Aguilera’s voice is in tip-top shape, some of the material is tepid and self-indulgent, especially on the cringeworthy dedication to her fans “Thank You.”
The track, a “song” accentuated by fanatical Aguilera fans bragging about her kick-ass vocal acrobats, songwriting abilities and stage command, isn’t more than an ego boost for the former “Dirrty” girl. Sure, it’s all true, but those confessions would’ve been better left to the lining notes.
While Disc 1 utilizes producer DJ Premier, Disc 2 enlists Linda Perry, who previously worked with Aguilera on the bombastic ballad “Beautiful.” With its creepy circus theme, it’s the less radio-friendly of the two.
There’s a fair amount of filler on “Back” (mostly on Disc 2), but there also are career-defining moments. On the confessional “Oh Mother,” a call out to her mom for overcoming an abusive marriage, Aguilera softly sings in the intro and eventually exercises her chops in full measure over a haunting drumbeat.
The breezy ballad “Understand” highlights the vigor of Aguilera’s voice over a sample of ’60s soul singer Betty Harris while “Save Me From Myself” is an exercise in vocal quality over quantity.
Aguilera’s foray into the bluesy realm places her over-and-above her fellow Mouseketeers, but it’s just unfortunate that – at 22 songs – half of “Back” is so basic.

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.