Some artists reject equating their personal lives with their artistic ones. In the tradition of the most magnificent women in soul, Mary J. Blige has always invited it, freely discussing her travails and liberally exploring them within her songs, no matter how cutting. Yet on Strength of a Woman , ardent followers might find it jarring that the R&B diva should once again find a reason to look within for affirmation, at age 46 as she does on her 13th album's luminous, boom-bap opening track "Love Yourself." After a career peppered with songs detailing her abusive relationships and substance addiction, she appeared to find a plateau, a lane where she finally uncovered the happiness she deserved.
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