Celine Marie Claudette Dion was born on March 30, 1968 in Charlemagne, Quebec. She’s the youngest of fourteen children. In 1981 she released her debut solo album LA VOIX DU BON DIEU. Fast forward to 1990 and she put out her first English language album, UNISON. It included the hit ‘Where Does My Heart Beat Now’. Over the years she became one of the most respected vocalists worldwide. In 1997 she had a #1 hit with ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from the movie Titanic. Fast forward again to 2013 and she released her 11th English language studio album, LOVED ME BACK TO LIFE (Columbia). Here, I will be reviewing the Deluxe Edition.
Starting things off is the title track and first single, ‘Loved Me Back to Life’. It was written by Hasham Hussein, Denarius Motes, and Sia Furler. This pop song is about resuscitation: “The voices inside were so real/But you stood by my side/Night after night (2X)/You loved me back to life/Life/From the coma/The wait is over/You loved me back to life/Life/From the coma/We’re lovers again tonight/You woke me up/One touch and I felt alive”. ‘Somebody Loves Somebody’ finds Celine addressing her partner: “Wait/I’m hearing every word that you say/You wonder if we made a mistake/It’s written all over your face/You know it’s too late/We’ve already fallen in love/Tell me, is it askin’ too much/For you to stick it out when it’s tough?/Is it ever enough?” ‘Incredible’ is a R&B ballad and duet with Ne-Yo. It’s a love song: “Whole world is watching us now/It’s a little intimidating/But since there’s no way to come down/Let’s give ‘em something amazing/Let’s make them remember/Using one word/Incredible”.
Francis ‘Eg’ White and Daniel Merriweather wrote the album’s fourth single, ‘Water and a Flame’. It’s a soulful ballad of longing: “I’m tired of this empty house/I need a drink to get me out/A couple more ‘til I forget your name/I saw a guy that looked like you/I did not know quite what to do/It took a power of will to break my stare/I realized what I wanted wasn’t there”. ‘Breakaway’ is a song of reflection: “If I could breakaway/Cut the chord/For worse or better/If I could turn the page/At last and say/Goodbye forever/But on the other side/Of yesterday/Beyond the heartache/What if all I am/Without the pain/Is empty heartache?/I could breakaway”. ‘Save Your Soul’ is a pop song addressed to a guy: “I’ll forget what you’ve done/But I can’t save your soul/I won’t preach, I won’t judge/Save your soul/You could get on your knees/But I can’t save your soul/Baby, just let me be”.
Next up is an easy listening number, ‘Didn’t Know Love’. These lyrics are vulnerable: “I didn’t know love, not even close/This is more beautiful and frightening than I’ve ever known/It’s making me weak, making me strong/It’s making me afraid I’m going to wake up and find it gone/I didn’t know love/It’s a blessing, it’s a curse/You know you’ve found it when it hurts/It can drive you off a cliff/But it’s worth it”. Shaffer Smith wrote ‘Thank You’, a beautiful song of gratitude: “Cause when no one else would care, you did/And when no one else was there, you were/Now I am so aware/You’re a blessing to me/What did I do to deserve/To deserve you?” ‘Overjoyed’ is a duet with the legendary Stevie Wonder. The song originally was on his 1985 album IN SQUARE CIRCLE. This R&B ballad begins with these childlike lyrics: “Over time I’ve been building my castle of love/Just for two/Though you never knew you were my reason/I’ve gone much too far for you now to say/That I’ve got to throw my castle away/Over dreams/I have picked out a perfect come true/Though you never knew it was of you I’ve been dreaming/The sandman has come from too far away/For you to say come back some other day”.
‘Thankful’ is an adult contemporary ballad of gratitude: “I’m thankful to be here/Thankful to feel clear/Thankful my prayers have been answered/Thankful you listened/Thankful to heaven/Thankful for feelin’ alive again/Thankful that hearts always mend”. A choir is used to good effect. Janis Ian wrote ‘At Seventeen’. It was on her 1975 album BETWEEN THE LINES. Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds plays bass on Celine’s version of this classic: “I learned the truth at seventeen/That love was meant for beauty queens/And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles/Who married young and then retired/The Valentines I never knew/The Friday night charades of youth/Were spent on one more beautiful/At seventeen I learned the truth”. ‘Always Be Your Girl’ is a ballad of commitment: “We’ll always be connected, baby/Like a button to a sleeve/And this lullaby will send you off to sleep/It’s hard to imagine my life before you/Cause you’re the light that leads the way.../I’ll be holdin’ the rope if you tumble and fall”.
Diane Warren wrote ‘Unfinished Songs’, a pop song of positivity on which Jeanette Olsonn sings background vocals: “We’re all unfinished songs/Waiting for the best part to come along, hey, hey/And we’re all pictures half drawn/We can be anything we want, hey, hey/Now is your time/It’s your life/No one’s living it but you”. The Deluxe Edition of the album contains two additional cuts. ‘How Do You Keep the Music Playing’ makes use of The Nashville String Machine and asks some good questions: “How do you keep the music playing?/How do you make it last?/How do you keep the song from fading too fast?/How do you lose yourself to someone and never lose your ways?/How do you not run out of new things to say?” Last up is ‘Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)’. It was written by Billy Joel and was on his 1993 album RIVER OF DREAMS. It’s a gentle song about being faithful: “I promised I would never leave you/And you should always know/Wherever you may go/No matter where you are/I never will be far away.../And like a boat out on the ocean/I’m rocking you to sleep/The water’s dark and deep/Inside this ancient heart/You’ll always be a part of me”.
LOVED ME BACK TO LIFE is a flawless album! Genre-wise, it’s mainly an adult pop and adult contemporary work of art, with the slower songs outnumbering the faster-paced ones by a bit. These are not songs about puppy love or about promiscuity. The songs fall into two categories for the most part: happy love songs that involve commitment, and more serious songs about the problems and complexities folks encounter when it comes to relationships. Gratitude is also a theme on the album. Celine’s vocals are strong but not overpowering on this modern sounding project. The Deluxe Edition clocks in at over an hour and there are several terrific pics of Celine included. I’m rating LOVED ME BACK TO LIFE 100%. For more info visit: www.celinedion.com.