[HOT TRACK]New Dion: yearning for the old

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[HOT TRACK]New Dion: yearning for the old

A new day has come for Celine Dion, whose first album in five years will be released worldwide next Monday. Dion, 33, put her career on hold in 1999 and got married to her longtime working partner Rene Angelil, 60, who has managed her career since she recorded her first demo at 12.

The native of Quebec said of her new album, "I hope my songs can be like a shoulder to lean on." The sentiment is apt, for Dion now has not only her husband but a baby to take care of.

Just as you would expect, Dion's vocals are nearly flawless in "A New Day Has Come." But this gives the listener the odd effect of knowing and not being surprised that she'll hit all the right notes, high and low. In fact, Dion and her producers seemed to be aware that she had to stray from her diva formula this time to attract attention. So her eighth studio album in English attempts to present a slick new Dion in the later tracks. The album carries 17 songs, opening with the clear melody lines of "I'm Alive" and "Right in Front of You." The third track, "Have You Ever Been in Love?" displays Dion's vocals to the fullest and has a playful element, starting off tantalizing and ending with a gust of power.

One vocal gem is the title track, where the diva displays her superhuman singing range. Another vocal notable is "I Surrender," an easy-listening love song. The seventh and eighth tracks, "Goodbye" and "Prayer," remain true to the formulaic good old Dion, but the repetitive melodies begin to get tedious.

Beyond that, the new shades of Dion materialize. In "Ten Days" and "Rain, Tax (It's Inevitable)" she sounds like Jennifer Lopez - if the wedding planner could sing.

In these and the other later tracks Dion stops trying to test the boundaries of her vocal range and experiments with different styles. "At Last" has a catchy, danceable beat, and Dion this time sings Britney-style. To be fair, she does a passable job, but something seems a little off. The last track is a Dionized and jazzy version of Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy," confirming that Dion is a versatile songstress but that some things are better left unchanged, or at least unchallenged.

If you aspire to be a great singer and need a good model, this new Dion output would do you well. Even if you don't sing, this disk belongs in any collection that focus on the works of divas.

Though Dion claims that a new day has come, her best work continues to be the way she used to be.

by Chun Su-jin

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