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Music critic talks standout tracks on Mary J. Blige album 'Good Morning Gorgeous'

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, R&B superstar Mary J. Blige released a new album Friday. It's called "Good Morning Gorgeous." And given that this is a big weekend for her - a new album and a performance during tonight's Super Bowl halftime show - we thought we'd show her a little love as we close out the show. So we've enlisted the help of music journalist and Mary J. Blige superfan Julianne Escobedo Shepherd to talk about a few standout tracks.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARY J. BLIGE SONG, "ENOUGH")

JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD: So I really like "Enough" because it sounds like a very classic Mary song. She's singing about a cheating partner. And it's just really classic in that she has this way of getting at her emotions and what she's going through that feels very, you know, realistic. And just - you can feel her pain in her voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ENOUGH")

MARY J BLIGE: (Singing) Tell me, why is it so typical to let it go? Walk away for physical, forget the love. You can't see what you got at home. You're dead wrong not to fight for it. Is it ever going to be enough?

SHEPHERD: Where her power comes is from her ability to express emotions in a way that feels so real. And I think it's a combination of just her really feeling it. But also, there's just something magical and almost, like, spiritual, I think, about where she goes emotionally in that voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ENOUGH")

BLIGE: (Singing) You can't see what you got at home. You're dead wrong not to fight for it. Is it ever going to be enough?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME SEE ABOUT ME")

BLIGE: (Singing) Oh, yeah. Now, now, baby, anytime you want it. Talking about a lifetime...

SHEPHERD: I love "Come See About Me." So first of all, she sounds really sort of happy and unburdened, which is great to hear. Like I said, I think Mary fans just want Mary to be happy (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME SEE ABOUT ME")

BLIGE: (Singing) Come, come, and see about me. You know I'm really in a good mood. I bought a coast for you. Match that so we can have two. Come, come, and see about me. You know I'm really in a good mood. You make a move. I make a move. We make a movie.

SHEPHERD: But also, it's this sort of sweet and unapologetic sex song. You know, there's that line, I make a move, you make a move, we make a movie. And it's a little salacious. But it - there's just something very - you know, there's something very free about it. And it sounds really contemporary. The thing that she's doing with her oohs sounds very, like, rooted in, like, you know, contemporary rap and also, like, a little bit of SZA in there. And I just - I love it. It's so great.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RENT MONEY")

BLIGE: (Singing) This isn't love. This is foolish. I just want back what I put into this And then I'll keep moving.

SHEPHERD: "Rent Money" - I mean, it goes back a little bit to, like, can any man treat Mary with the respect that she deserves? Please.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RENT MONEY")

SHEPHERD: (Singing) You must be used to me spending. Look now, my rent money due.

SHEPHERD: But also, it's really about the emotional energy that you put into a relationship and it's not reciprocated. And I think it's really poetic - the lyrics and the way she puts it. And also, you know, once again, she's just, like, so relatable about just what the tax of a bad relationship takes on women who are putting everything into it and not getting it back.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RENT MONEY")

BLIGE: (Singing) Every girl like she's the main chick, amazing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARY J. BLIGE SONG, "GOOD MORNING GORGEOUS")

SHEPHERD: So "Good Morning Gorgeous," I think, is really a sort of flagship song of where she is right now in her career and her life. I know there's a lot of conversation, too, about, like, you know, loving yourself and self-care. And a lot of times it can sound a little bit shallow. But she's really embodying it here. And, I mean, I'm going to be bumping this in this morning (laughter) just a little, like, go-get-them kind of anthem for right when you wake up. It's so good.

MARTIN: That was journalist Julianne Escobedo Shepherd discussing the latest album from Mary J. Blige. It's called "Good Morning Gorgeous."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOOD MORNING GORGEOUS")

BLIGE: (Singing) Seems like this is never ending. And I refuse to let it end me mentally... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.