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Mariah Carey's ninth album has been touted as her comeback album, coming as it does after the belly flop that produced the overwrought soundtrack to her ill-fated film, Glitter. With Charmbracelet, Carey goes out of her way to fix all those aesthetic glitches, tempering the overblown vocals, simpering lyrics, and uninspired funk covers of her last album and returning to what she does best--showcasing her magnificent five-octave voice and pillaging her lift history for inspiration. After her breakup with superstar Luis Miguel, MTV meltdown, hospitalization for exhaustion, and the death of her father, Carey had a lot of emotional baggage to sift through. She has and, as a result, has created an inspired and diverse 15-song opus that finds her skipping from an impassioned Aretha Franklin-like gospel ("Saving Grace") to an impish cover of Def Leppard's power ballad "Bringin' on the Heartbreak." Though he's not mentioned by name, rapper Eminem is given a pointed drubbing on "Clowns" for hinting in the press and in his own song "Superman" of a relationship with Carey. There hasn't been such a compelling musical soap opera since Carly Simon's '70s roman à clef, "You're So Vain." However, the disc's most inspiring moment comes on "Sunflowers for Alfred Roy," a wistful elegy for her father that recounts his final days in his hospital room. This is a stunning return to form for Carey.
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