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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Album review: Mary J Blige uses real-life drama to shine in Strength of a Woman

Blige's latest album seems to support the theory that she is at her best musically when she is at her worst personally.
Strength of a Woman, the latest album by Mary J Blige. Capitol Records via AP Photo
Strength of a Woman, the latest album by Mary J Blige. Capitol Records via AP Photo

Strength of a Woman

Mary J Blige

(Capitol)

Three stars

Mary J Blige has a way with hurt. Staples such as like Not Gon’ Cry and No More Drama might even prove that she is at her best musically when she’s at her worst personally.

Her latest album supports this theory. Thanks in no small part to real-life drama involving her estranged husband, Martin “Kendu” Isaacs, from whom she filed for divorce last year, lead single Thick of It movingly captures Blige torn between staying and walking away.

In Set Me Free, she is quietly scathing: “How you fix your mouth to say I owe you/When you had another [woman] and taking trips.../With my money.”

The hazy Indestructible is beautiful, with Blige seeming to advise, not just the audience, but herself too: “I know your heart is aching/But you can’t let him break it baby/You gotta love like you’ve never been hurt/To find a love that you deserve.”

Maybe that’s why fans cling to “sad Mary”: if, despite her troubles, she soldiers on, then maybe everyone else can, too.

* Melanie J Sims / AP

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