It's been nearly a decade since the release of a complete compilation of original material from Diana Ross. The emergence of "I Love You" has caught some by surprise and others with blatant disinterest. To her credit, Miss Ross could have joined the ranks of so many other former hitmakers and attempted to keep up with today's artists by intermingling high powered vocals with the sound of processed, mundane tracks. Instead, she's followed the inclination of some previously established artists by resurfacing with a collection of remakes of classic pop and soul songs. While this is in some ways laudable, this trend is quickly becoming stale and boring, with dozens of "covers" albums having been released over the past couple years.
Make no mistake, Diana Ross still possesses the unmistakable signature voice that has made her a legend, but on "I Love You" some songs work well for her and clearly others should have been sidelined. While the material Ross covers is solid, the arrangements are disappointing in that many of these remade classics are sufficiently watered down and rather uninteresting. "More Today Than Yesterday" (originally recorded by Spiral Staircase) is the shining spot on this collection. Listeners can envision Miss Ross smiling while reliving enjoyable memories of a time gone by as she recorded this song. With a touch of sultry sensuality, Ross makes "I Want You," a classic made famous by Marvin Gaye and co-written by Miss Ross' brother, T-Bone and Leon Ware, her own. It seems fitting that this song would be included on "I Love You" because of the familial collection. The soulful group Heatwave rose to the top of the list of lovers across the world with their hit, "Always and Forever." However, the rendition of this song and other ballads on "I Love You" are depressing instead of inspiring romantic illusions and hope for everlasting love.
"I Love You" falls terribly flat, which is regrettable for longtime fans of Miss Ross who've waited over the years for a new release. While the subdued and laid back arrangements may be the perfect accompaniment to a cold, uneventful night in front of a fire place, sipping a glass of wine with no outside distractions, they do not make for great active listening and do little justice to Miss Ross's legacy.
By Detrel Howell