Diana Ross ' new record, Thank You, is her first album of new material in decades, her 25th studio album in total, and the first collaboration (hopefully of many) with super-producer Jack Antonoff - who kept himself busy over lockdown with about thirteen different projects, and most of them were world class. Put simply, Ross has entrusted her legacy to the sturdiest pair of hands in the market. For an album that was created - from first demo to final mix - during a worldwide pandemic, the songs here feel remarkably alive.
Thank You comes a full 15 years after Diana Ross' last album I Love You, a set of ballad covers that at the time got it in the neck for being largely redundant. After such a long gap, the appearance of the album in 2021 conspicuously begs the question: "Why now?" Part of the reason, judging solely from the songs at least, is that in these post-covid, culture war-sodden times, we need a particular brand of positivity that only she, with her diamond white smile and comforting cloud of hair, can bring. From the evidence of most of the (brand-new) songs here, what the world really needs now is a revival of Ross' .
Diana Ross' last studio album would have been no way for a musical icon to bow out. I Love You, released in 2006 to widespread indifference, was a collection of under-heated covers (and one new song) that seemed to have been picked at random out of the romantic songbook--from "Take My Breath Away" to the Beatles' "I Will"--with little sense of cohesion. It was no wonder that Ross sounded distracted as she made her way through an hour's worth of plasticky, gift-card soul.