Album Review | POP

Celine Dion, ‘Loved Me Back to Life’

The first English-language disc in six years from Montreal native Celine Dion is littered with syrupy, easy-listening, trite-lyric ballads that undersell her talent. In the past she has been at her best when sprinkling in some uptempo tracks — such as Cyndi Lauper’s “I Drove All Night” and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” — but no such luck here. She somehow uses a whopping 23 songwriters and producers, but she clearly needed to exercise some veto power. The best song by far is a cover of Janis Ian’s folk anthem, “At Seventeen,” about growing up as an “ugly duckling.” Dion gives it a light Brazilian feel and sends shudders through your heart. She also touches the soul with a duet with Stevie Wonder on his song “Overjoyed,” about finding love again. But she is undone by clunker ballads such as “Incredible” and the embarrassing “Always Be Your Girl.” She experiments at times with a more gravelly voice, suggesting a bid for more street appeal, but the overall effect is stiff and mechanical, minus the warmth for which she is known. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “At Seventeen”