Proceed with Caution as you listen to Mariah Carey’s 15th studio LP, Caution.
That’s right, this is legendary vocalist Mariah “Mimi” Carey’s 15th studio album. While it’s clear that the singer has evolved since her debut back in 1990, Caution proves she still has the ability to produce a perfectly modern and coherent album.
Opening with the slow R&B jam, “GTFO,” Carey shows that she isn’t blind to current sounds and production. Fresh and modern production is a common theme throughout Caution, which just further cements Carey’s legend status by showing her ability to mold and adapt while still keeping in touch with her roots. The entire record features sultry and rather interesting production, which is much like the hypnotically captivating title track.
At only 10 tracks, all written by Carey, Caution values quality over quantity. As Carey soars through her still impressive vocal range, though mostly in the background, she manages to create the perfect blend of retro and modern in a way that only the “Songbird Supreme” herself could.
Too much nostalgia and you get accused of living in the past, not enough and people may claim you aren’t catering to your fanbase. Yet, Carey manages to blend these lines perfectly.
A noticeable difference between this record and Carey’s past works is that Caution feels much more relaxed vocally. While her signature whistle notes make an appearance occasionally on this album, they don’t have as prominent of a presence as one may find on her 1991 LP, Emotions, for example. Instead, Caution seems to value a vibe, and Carey’s presence itself in the song over her extreme vocal prowess.
That’s not to say that her famously wide belts aren’t highlighted, but these moments are few. For the first time in her career, it seems as though Carey is content with more relaxed vocals. With her current voice feeling almost as if it melts into the production of the songs, creating the ideal sonic atmosphere.
From her silky falsetto in the deliciously smooth and lullaby-like R&B gem, “One Mo’ Gen,” to the feelgood callback to early 2000’s hip-hop collaborations in, “Stay Long Love You,” featuring Gunna. She is telling audiences not to count her out and dismiss her as simply a nostalgia act beyond her prime days.
The highlight of the record, “Giving Me Life,” featuring Slick Rick and Blood Orange reminds audiences that the elusive chanteuse has not forgotten the slow-burning and mysterious R&B vibe of 1997’s, “Butterfly.” Even at the album’s weakest moment, “With You,” Carey delivers a solid piano ballad with impressive lyrics and vocal ability.
Caution is a great addition to Carey’s already impressive discography. She proves that she’s comfortable, happy, and ultimately just making music because she enjoys her craft. She’s not trying to recreate past successes, she’s simply here to write and create music that she loves and thankfully, still does so on a caliber unprecedented to this day. Surely new and old fans alike will find something enjoyable in this record.
Mariah Carey has spent decades building an empire a mile high. If anyone deserves to sit contently at on top of the empire they’ve built, it’s Mariah Carey.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5