November 15, 2019 Celine Dion – Courage (Album Review)
Earning five Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, seven American Music Awards, twenty JUNO Awards and forty Félix Awards, Celine Dion is a pop star from a different stratosphere. Initially beginning her career while only a teenager at the dawn of the ’80s with a series of French-language recordings, it was not until a decade that she would crack into a more international market with her first English album in 1990. Speaking of which, she returns in 2019 with her first English-language album since 2013’s Loved Me Back to Life with the highly anticipated Courage.
Released on Friday, November 15th via Columbia Records, Dion’s twelfth English-language album, and twenty seventh overall, comes at listeners with a whole lot to offer. For one, in an age where it seems pop artists are opting to go for shorter LP lengths, Dion goes against the grain with sixteen tracks on the standard edition of the release and a whopping twenty tracks for the deluxe edition. Something that was more the norm two decades ago, it has become harder to come by in the modern world, so you are going to need to strap on your attention span caps before digging into this one.
Now that you have done just that you are set you sit back and indulge in Courage, an album that is quite familiar stylistically to Dion’s past, but also offers plenty of experimentation as well. As most know, she has worked with some of the best producers/writers through the years, and this album is no different. Teaming up with the likes of a long list of talent yet again, some of the writers/producers who on Courage with Dion include Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, Skylar Grey, Steve Aoki, Freddy Wexler, and Sia just to name a few. That said, the production and songwriting is only a portion of the puzzle that makes any piece of music successful – if something sinks or swims is really up to the artist themselves. Fortunately for her, Dion has the type of voice that is easily distinctive, extremely powerful, and exquisitely haunting – she is really a Classic singer doing Pop. This gift in her hands, she does not waste any of it on the tracks that make up Courage.
First debuting the new music back in June of this year with the danceable, upbeat “Flying On My Own,” she would follow-up with the catchy “Imperfections” and mellow title-track “Courage” both in September, before releasing the somber “Lying Down” in October. All a good sample of what the album has to offer, which is a mostly ballads mixed in with more up-tempo tracks, other highlights amidst it all include “Falling In Love Again,” the very ’90s vibed “Change My Mind,” and the heartbreaking “For The Lover That I Lost.”
Furthermore, “Nobody’s Watching” is a cool little track where Dion deliveries thoughtful lyrics about the state of a world on technology overload. Which leads us to the fitting closing of the standard edition Courage, “Perfect Goodbye,” a cut that is both angelic and mesmerizing at the same time. As for the songs that follow on the deluxe edition, they do not at all feel out of place, and bold moments include the powerful “Heart of Glass” and “The Hard Way” where Dion reaches even deeper for some soaring vocals.
Overall, Courage is classic Celine Dion from start to finish. In truth, with a voice like her’s it is hard to hit the mark. However, the knowledge that she lost her husband/manager in 2016 to cancer, only amplifies the listening experience, because you can really feel the hurt in her inflections. All these factors in mind, Courage sees Dion digs deep down for a smoothing, yet emotionally arousing performance. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.