Christina Aguilera has transformed her image and musical style with every album. With the new Back to Basics album, her musical style has changed from the urban and light rock sounds of Stripped to a soulful and jazz-inspired album. Aguilera has described her upcoming album as a soul record combining elements of 1920s, '30s and '40s blues and jazz with modern day influences. The album's title was confirmed in the March issue of Rolling Stone magazine, and Aguilera was featured in a cover story of ELLE UK magazine confirming her work with producers Mark Ronson and P. Diddy. The record finds her working with hip-hop producers DJ Premier, Kwame and Ronson for the first time. It will also find her working with Linda Perry, who worked with Aguilera on Stripped (2002). In February 2006 at MTV's TRL Awards, she previewed three unmastered tracks from the upcoming album including "Candy Man" and "Back to Basics". Back to Basics is a double-CD.
Back to Basics, Christina Aguilera's first disc in four years, refines and clarifies the--let's call it "sexy"--aura surrounding this platinum firebrand. Here, the best belter in a class that counts Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears on its roll call has turned her attention to love songs: the supercharged and ubiquitous first single "Ain't No Other Man," for one, and the hushed stunner "Save Me from Myself" for another. That doesn't mean she's foresworn being nasty, though. Dive deep into this set, past the gorgeous crackle that frames the old-school jazz-, blues-, and soul-inspired tracks on the first disc, and you'll reach a playful and familiar raunch; "Candyman" celebrates a "one-stop shop" who "makes the panties drop" to a boogie-woogie beat, and "Nasty Naughty Boy" sends out a heated, big-beated invitation to "sip on my champagne/Cause I'm gonna give you a little taste/Of the sugar below my waist." Thoughtful listeners should snap out of their fascination with Xtina's undiminished yet newly un-tramp-like sexuality, though, because what they'll really want to focus on throughout these 22 tracks is the honest-to-God artistry. While the rock producer Linda Perry helps disc two pop in interesting and unexpected ways (check the muffled blues number "I Got Trouble" and "Mercy on Me," an obvious nod to Fiona Apple), DJ Premier, a mainstay on Jay-Z and Nas projects, pipes a batch of aural high-fives into the nostalgia-bitten first disc (the deep-down funk of "Back in the Day," the strut-strut early hip-hop sound of "Still Dirrty"). Their nudges aside, though, Back to Basics is all Aguilera's baby--she executive-produced, and she's found herself artistically. Nobody would argue, in fact, if she swiveled around the chorus to "Ain't No Other Man," written for her husband, and aimed it at herself: "You got soul, you got class/You got style, you're bada--." --Tammy La Gorce
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