Let's be clear. Beyonce Knowles has a fine voice. No, hang on a sec.
Beyonce Knowles has a GREAT voice. One of the best on the planet in fact!
What makes '4' the standout album of her career so-far is not just its
coherence but that she seems to have found greater focus and power than
ever before in these twelve splendid performances.
Her singing is inspired, passionate, fearless and utterly committed.
Jump straight to 'Miss You' (a number co-written with Frank Ocean) to
experience that magical mixture of power and restraint which very few
other singers in the world are able to match. Ms Knowles inhabits a song
and brings it to life with impeccable technique and real burning emotion.
Even the Diane Warren (pop-anthem-by-numbers) composition 'I Was Here'
is given a stirring and believable performance (a small wonder in itself!)
There is a strongly optimistic streak running through the album.
On 'Run The World (Girls)' one might imagine her astride a golden
chariot leading an army of women in killer heels across an arid desert
to a new promised land. Popular politics has rarely been such fabulous fun!
It's those big, ecstatic ballads which really shine through though!
'Best Thing I Never Had' is a cracking example. (It gave me goosebumps!)
Soulful, refined and absolutely magnificent! The beautiful 'I Care' comes
a very close second, however, in the rip-your-heart-to-shreds stakes!
Mercifully Ms Knowles bucks the current trend for the overinclusion
of celebrity friends. Andre 3000 pops up on 'Party' and is a well-
behaved (and amusing) guest and that's about it. The harmonies are stunning!
'4' isn't an album for the dancefloor. It's an entirely credible sidestep
into a more personal and reflective musical landscape. It's a gift!