Monica is apparently enjoying a long honeymoon with husband Shannon Brown, Phoenix Suns shooting guard. The singer known for her tough girl R&B songs finds comfort in a softer and happier place on her album, "New Life," out Tuesday.
The album intro includes Mary J. Blige giving Monica advice on adjusting to being a wife. Blige tells Monica to "enjoy your new life," and Monica later sings about moving forward and not looking back on past times, setting the pace for the direction of the album.
While Monica's current single, a second teaming with Brandy for "It All Belongs To Me," is about a messy breakup, most of the album celebrates healthier aspects of relationships. The most telling track is "Amazing," a ballad singing the praises of Monica's husband.
Over subtle pulsating drums and light pianos produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, Monica thanks Brown for taking her to a better place. "Boy your love took the pain from my chest," she sings.
On the Rico Love produced "Take A Chance," Monica and Wale deliver a mid-tempo duet with the energy and vocal styling of a classic Michael Jackson R&B song. On the super sexy bump and grind "Without You," helmed by Polow Da Don, Monica channels Prince. Paying even more homage to her predecessors, Monica masters old school stylings on "Big Mistake," "Cry" and "Time To Move On."
I'm not certain that the album includes as many radio hits as her previous efforts, but Monica's singing at her best and her heart is in it. "New Life" is a good listen from beginning to end, especially for anyone missing a solid R&B album in the midst of a hip-hop heavy marketplace.
Monica's maturity is evident both in her song choices and approach.