Whitney Houston (Arista)
She was making Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty look like amateurs for a while, but Whitney Houston eventually managed to get clean. Hers is the kind of riches-to-rags-to-riches story that the US adores; no wonder I Look To You brought Houston the biggest first-week sales in her 25-year career.
The main evidence of Houston’s troubles offered by the album is vocal. Houston’s formerly crystalline soprano is scratchier, slurrier and basically unrecognisable.
The change is most audible on I Didn’t Know My Own Strength, a big ballad made poignant not by the lashings of cheese over the arrangement but by Houston’s own vocal frailties.
Voice aside, there’s not much to talk about. This is a straightforward modern American pop album, blending uptempo cuts with corny slowies, and nodding as much to the past (disco-tinged Million Dollar Bill) as to current trends (Nothin’ But Love). So, how about that Bobby Brown comeback?