Mariah Carey, ‘Me. I am Mariah . . . the Elusive Chanteuse’
On her first new album in six years, Mariah Carey may be slightly confused about the definition of “elusive” — she wasn’t exactly in hiding on “American Idol” — but she has a good grasp on crafting songs that should appeal to different factions of her fanbase.
Under the guiding hand of old buddy, producer Jermaine Dupri and help from a cavalcade of friends — including rappers Nas and Wale, soul crooner Miguel, and Stevie Wonder pitching in on harmonica — “Me. I Am Mariah. . .” offers up rhythmic hip-hop pop, gospel-inflected power ballads, old-school soul, and straight-up disco fantasias.
Miguel injects oomph and warmth into throwback gem “#Beautiful,” the relentless yet elegant “Meteorite” would make Donna Summer shimmy, and “Cry” summons all the highs and lows of Carey’s still powerful — and sometimes pleasantly dusky — voice in service of a commanding song.
What is unfortunately not elusive on the album are a clutch of interchangeable slow-to-midtempo tunes long on pulsating atmosphere — several with distractingly fidgety rhythmic tracks — but short on melody or verve. And some nice vocal moments on “Supernatural” are sabotaged by the cloying inclusion of giggling and patter from Carey’s toddlers. A cute memento for mom isn’t always the best choice musically. (Out Tuesday)