Stronger with Each Tear's first four songs are decorated like NASCAR vehicles, with IDs from the Runners and Akon, Rodney Jerkins, Ryan Leslie, Stereotypes, and T.I. all heard before the voice of Mary J. Blige enters the mix. Sound logos and gratuitous self-serving plugs from producers and guest MCs are nothing new in mainstream R&B, but when an album by Mary J.
Blige remains as relevant as any of her more recent contemporaries. Daryl Easlea 2010 Mary J. Blige returns like the elder stateswoman that she is with this, her ninth album, and first since 2007’s Growing Pains. Released in the States before Christmas, it rushed to number two – charting just a week after Alicia Keys’ The Element of Freedom, many saw its timing as instigating a direct battle of the soul divas.
After sharing a lifetime of bottoming-out stories, Blige has moved on to the self-affirmation stage of her Diva Recovery Program. ”I ain’t sayin’ that I’m the best, but I’m the best,” she brags on Stronger With Every Tear, a hip-hop soul hymnbook full of inspirationals. There’s so much feel-goodness, you might long for the drama of yore.