Celine Dion has spent the last couple of years in Las Vegas performing several shows a week while making a bazillion dollars in the process. Taking Chances is her first new studio album in four years, so one would expect a little bit of rust from someone who has been out of the pop game for so long.
Unfortunately, Taking Chances is at best uneven. There are some nice tracks but no outstanding songs that leap out at the listener and remain memorable. Plus, there are a couple of disasters which occur when Miss Dion abandons the safely of her easy listening/pop sound and tries some rock & roll.
The real problem, however, is her voice sounds tired and washed out at times. This is particularly apparent when she sings without much instrumental backup. When there is overdubbing such as on her signature building power ballads, this problem disappears. Still it is unsettling, to hear at times, one of the great pop voices of this generation not up to par.
The album starts well enough with “Taking Chances.” A tentative opening vocal builds into her best outing of the album. Her voice begins to soar as the instrumental backup begins to build, and it’s a good start to the disc. However, the problems begin with the second song, “Alone.” What possessed Celine Dion to try a straight rock song and a Heart song to boot is beyond me. Dion just does not have the vocal fullness of Ann Wilson, who has given this song its signature performance. Also, putting strings in place of Nancy Wilson’s guitar is just adding fuel to the fire.
From this point on, Taking Chances continues in an average direction. Songs such as “Eyes On Me,” “My Love,” “New Dawn” and “I Got Nothin’ Left” are only ordinary. “Surprise Surprise” shows promise but the vocal is spotty until near the end. “This Time” is a difficult song that does allow Celine to show her vocal artistry through a number of pitch and tempo changes. “A World To Believe In” is the other better song on the album. Here she delivers a smooth vocal that builds throughout the song and takes off near the end.
The other real disaster on Taking Chances is the guitar-based brass background rocker “Can’t Help The Feeling.” This song was written and produced by Also Nova, but Dion cannot pull it off. Maybe Ann Wilson could cover this song and do it justice.
Taking Chances is a very average album by one of the great pop singers of our time. Hopefully it is just an aberration and the next outing will be a little stronger — strong enough, at any rate, to match Dion’s previous output.