Album Review: Mariah Carey – Caution

Some time has passed since Mariah Carey released some music. The Lambily, as hardcore Mariah fans are called,…

Some time has passed since Mariah Carey released some music. The Lambily, as hardcore Mariah fans are called, were waiting for this moment for 4 years. It’s been a minute since her last album ‘Me. I am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse’ from 2014. Maybe most notably for guitary single #Beautiful with Miguel. Her smooth soprano voice was definitely missed, as her voice and her power ballads made her to a world star since the early 1990s. In addition, one of Mariah Carey’s most conspicuous vocal features is her whistle register. It is the highest register of the human voice and sounds similar to a whistling sound. Mariah often uses the whistle in her songs and concerts, impressing her audience since. In addition to her voice, Mariah transferred into many styles of music. From pop power ballads (‘Hero‘) to a transition to R&B and hip-hop beats with the help of Ol’ Dirty Bastard (‘Fantasy Remix’), Jay Z (‘Heartbreaker’), or Busta Rhymes (‘I Know What You Want’). This makes her relate to many different genres, in addition to her scratched live vocals, noticeable in 1992’s ‘MTV Unplugged EP‘, and of course, during Xmas – charting every year with her timeless classic ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. Supported by her strong fanbase, the ‘lambs’, who recently brought her bad reviewed ‘Glitter’ album – the soundtrack of the box office bomb of the same name – back in the charts, and with strong download sales even number 1 in some countries. Supported by the hashtag #JusticeforGlitter to bring back justice to her so-called downfall in 2001, and, as Carey believes, to push her to perform songs from the record as she never sings the tracks from the album anymore.

With 18 number ones in her pocket, Mariah Carey doesn’t have to prove anything. And that’s how her new album ‘Caution’ feels, not trying to please the public, rather creating the music she wants and what her fans want. Let’s go track-by-track.

Music Video for Buzz-Single ‘GTFO’

The album starts with ‘GTFO’, the first released track prior the album release. The gentle rhythmic and bluesy sounds – a sample of Robinson’s ‘Goodbye to the World’ – make smooth and steady moves while Carey sings as gentle as possible the words ‘how ‘bout you get the f*ck out?’

‘With You’ serves as the lead single of the album. Slow beats packaged in a ballad, but still in the R&B lane, different than her early 90s ballads. In addition, Mariah stays classy in the vintage black and white music video.

Music Video for official Lead Single ‘With You’

The title track ‘Caution’ serves with smoothe guitar supported by rhythmic beats. The slow-paced and gentle sounds create some mystery, while Mariah reminds the listener to ‘precede with caution’ in a ‘cautious’ voice, suiting the title.

‘The Distance’ can be seen as the highlight of the album. Smooth and very well sung, awesome base and catchy tunes. Kinda laid back. Ty Dolla $ign puts his rap into the song –  with the only negative part to say is that his rap could have been a bit longer. This, however, is forgiving for the flashy retro beats and dreamy vibe, supported by a cheerleader chant in the beginning as well as the ending of the song.

‘The Distance’ Lyric Video

‘A No No’, the only uptempo tune from the record, is Mariah’s justice of saying ‘No!’ as she once admitted that early in her life and career she was not able to ever say ‘No’. In funny repetitive lines, Mariah makes the ‘No’ a standout word in a playful matter, and for people who won’t understand tells you she can repeat it in French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Japanese. Ending with a sneaky laugh while a friend says ‘I think that’s it’, while Carey responds ‘yep!’ The song samples Lil’ Kim’s ‘Crush on You’ feat. The Notorious B.I.G. and Lil Cease. Biggie’s part is partly even kept in the track: ‘He’s a slut, he’s a hoe, he’s a freak/Got a different girl every day of the week.’

As Mariah is a huge fan of Slick Rick for years, she finally got the chance to work with him, together with Blood Orange, on ‘Giving Me Life’. Groovy and laid back, the track sounds like dark alleys in the night, the after club feeling, relaxing before sleep. Slick is literally as slick as ever, coming up with his rap, supported by old school 90s beats: ‘Swag, honey drip, spendin’ some time, remember them rhymes?’ The track surprisingly continues with a spaced out intro supported with Mariah’s humming and electric guitar strings in between.

‘Caution’ continues with creative sounds in ‘8th Grade’ and ‘Stay Long Love You’. The effects on both songs sound like blinks or glimmers, with an electronic touch reminiscent to video game sound effects. While ‘8th Grade’ flows like a daydream, ‘Stay Long Love You’ lives up with a mix of noticeable but cool keyboard tones. Kinda some touches of K or J pop, while staying in the rhythmic urban lane.

The album ends with ‘Portrait’ a typical Mariah Carey ballad, an end piece for the album, supported by a piano and R&B melodies. A nice ballad, kind of elegant, typical Mariah, different vocal steps, highs and lows, ending with a short orchestral piece while ending the album.

What’s most noticeable about ‘Caution’ is the fact that the album sounds like an album where the focus lays on making quality music. No mainstream pressure, not trying to imitate what’s trending. No single ready tunes supported with filler tracks. Every song from ‘Caution’ is part of the big picture. It works as a whole, as every track follows a certain lane. Much R&B, laid back, hip-hop flavors now and then, smooth and dreamy, adding a mix of creative sound effects and real instruments as well, which feels rarer than ever these days. Maybe an extra up-tempo track would give the album more flavor as there are not so many faster tracks on the record. Other than that, nothing else is missing. Mariah sounds comfortable as ever as this feels like an album that she wanted to do, and not that somebody else tells her to do.

Banger Track:
The Distance (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

Other Highlights:
A No No
Giving Me Life (feat. Slick Rick, Blood Orange)
Stay Long Love You (feat. Gunna)

Full Track List:

2. With You
3. Caution
4. A No No
5. The Distance (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
6. Giving Me Life (feat. Slick Rick and Blood Orange)
7. One Mo’ Gen
8. 8th Grade
9. Stay Long Love You (feat. Gunna)
10. Portrait


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