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My Love Is Your Love
1998 Arista



Rolling Stone (1/21/99, p.72) - 3 1/2 (out of 5) "... The former ingenue has some grown-up scars now, singing the marital blues with a bite in her voice that she's never come close to before..."

Newsweek (11/98) - "Houston's voice is a treasure and is only highlighted by tracks written and produced by the brightest stars of R&B and hip-hop"

New York Times (11/17//98) - "With Love, Ms Houston is the definitive pop-soul singer of her generation."

USA Today (11/17/98) - "Houston's Love stands on its own. Soaring. Rollicking. The best of both worlds."

Entertainment Weekly (12/18/98, p.86) - "This schizophrenic album is a primer on today's hip-hop/R&B scene: the good, the bad, and the Fugee....This unevenness makes Houston's greatest LOVE of all the season's best argument for programmable CD players." - Rating: B+

All Music Guide (1/99) - For all intents and purposes, Whitney Houston retired from being a full-fledged recording artist after her third album, 1990's I'm Your Baby Tonight, choosing to be a Streisand-like celebrity who cultivated a career through movies, soundtrack contributions, and social appearances. She may have been content to continue in that direction for many years if Arista president Clive Davis didn't push her into recording My Love Is Your Love, her first album in eight years, which easily ranks among her best.

Never before has Houston tried so many different sounds or tried so hard to be hip. It's one thing to work with Babyface, the standard-bearer of smooth soul in the '90s, but it's quite another to hire Wyclef Jean, Lauren Hill, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, and Q-Tip -- all cutting-edge artists (albeit on the accessible side of the cutting edge), the kind who never would have been associated with Houston in the late '80s. The gambit works. There is still a fair share of David Foster-produced adult contemporary ballads, but the true news is on the up-tempo and mid-tempo dance numbers.

In fact, the songs that feel the stiffest are the big production numbers; tellingly, they're the songs that are the most reminiscent of old-school Houston. That's not to say she can no longer belt out ballads convincingly -- in fact, the best ballads are where she restrains herself, delivering them with considerable nuance.

Houston has never been quite so subtle before, nor has she ever shown this desire to branch out musically. That alone would be reason enough to rank My Love Is Your Love among her more interesting albums, but the fact that it works more often than not pushes it into the top rank of her recorded work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


By Kevin John

I adore Rob Sheffield's Village Voice piece about The Bodyguard soundtrack because much of it revolves around wishing -- a central activity of most fringe Whitney Houston fans. Sheffield pines for a quirkier, braver Houston, one who would dare to duet with John Doe on the X classic "Adult Books" or who would inspire Bobby Brown to record his own "My Name Is Not Susan." Yet this isn't merely some sick rock critic wish-list. It's more a recognition of the fact that although Houston's voice is one of our era's best, it's been squandered (until now) on hack songwriting and arrangements that go boom, sound- and sales-wise.

The hipper among you might find such Sheffieldesque wishing as supremely wasteful as, well, listening to Whitney Houston ... Why wish for something that the conservative diva would obviously never even consider doing? I mean, there's about as much chance of such collaborations coming to fruition as there is that Ms. Houston would, say, get together with Bill Laswell to perform a Soft Machine cover -- which, by the way, she did. The song is called "Memories" (from Material's One Down album, Laswell's 1982 discombobulated disco experiment). And, what's more, it happens to be just about the loveliest ballad in all of pop music. Whereas later in her career, Houston's voice would signify little beyond "I have a great voice," here Houston conveys the fettered, haunted emotion of the lyric without grandstanding and with brilliant control.

But think of it -- Whitney Houston actually knows who Soft Machine are! The universe is stranger than Matador's hallowed release schedule would have you believe. It was undoubtedly with this idea in mind that Sheffield went forth imagining the best of all possible pop-music worlds. To paraphrase his equally brilliant piece on Roxy Music, he and those of us who know Houston's potential have been condemned to wander the Top 40 landscape in exile, haunted by the memory of "Memories," hoping against hope that she would someday aim for its beauty too intense for the mortal ear. Hosanna -- that day has finally arrived.

The second I saw Houston's elegant, up-to-date look on the cover of My Love Is Your Love, I knew that this would be her best album. It seems so inevitable, although I'm not 100 percent certain why ... Because The Bodyguard was such an unexpected culturefuck, maybe? Because she actually did fulfill the promise of "Memories" with "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" -- a hymn for our faithless, stressed- out time? Because the last few years have been great ones for R&B? Because the 90's in general have been a great ballad decade? Whatever the reason for it happening now, the reason My Love Is Your Love is such a good album is simple -- it's the music.

Houston has chosen fresh new songwriters, artists who have been partially responsible for the revitalization of R&B. It's evident that Houston's desire is to be part of the zeitgeist, rather than just passing through it via universal songs such as "The Star-Spangled Banner." You can hear the change immediately. Whitney comes out of a digitized loop on the first track, "It's Not Right But It's Okay," with the most narrative detail of her career, nailing her philandering man through credit card receipts and caller ID. It's one of three lively, off-beat productions that benefit from the player-piano aesthetic of Rodney Jerkins (who had huge success with it earlier this year on Brandy and Monica's "The Boy is Mine"). Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott offers up charitable star plaints in "In My Business" and "Oh Yes," Houston's sexiest song ever. And the sultry skank of Wyclef Jean's title tune proves that Houston can do universals sans bombs bursting in mid-air.

But it's the music of Houston's voice that puts most of these songs over. This is the first time she's been willing to di(v)e into her songs. That is, she's willing to explode her ever-important facility into odd phrasing and multi-tracked chaos, a strategy adopted by such megastars as (The Artist Formerly Known As) Prince, Michael Jackson and the Madonna of Bedtime Stories. She gamely attacks Elliott's goofy melodic shapes in "Oh Yes," and sounds like she's having fun dipping her voice on the last syllable of "you were so masculine." She's sisterly trading off vocals with Faith Evans and Kelly Price on "Heartbreak Hotel," although her best duet partner remains herself. She's exciting when she scats and improvises and tells the engineer to turn her up. It's said that Houston recorded this album in just two months. Imagine how great the next one will be if she cuts it down to a month.

The album features performances by Mariah Carey, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Faith Evans and Kelly Price.

[Wed., December 9, 1998, 12:00 AM EST]

LOVE limited ed.


Release Date: 11/17/1998