Monica - Still Standing

Monica
Monica_Still_Standing.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Monica's been undergoing personal and professional growing pains lately. Just a few weeks ago,  she ended her years-long engagement with the father of her sons, Rocko, and the less-than-expected sales of her 2007 CD, The Makings of Me, left many feeling that she was on her way down, if not out. So entitling her fifth studio CD Still Standing is not only timely, it's also accurate, since the new songs in the collection represent some of her most resonant and resilient work yet.

Monica's been undergoing personal and professional growing pains lately. Just a few weeks ago,  she ended her years-long engagement with the father of her sons, Rocko, and the less-than-expected sales of her 2007 CD, The Makings of Me, left many feeling that she was on her way down, if not out. So entitling her fifth studio CD Still Standing is not only timely, it's also accurate, since the new songs in the collection represent some of her most resonant and resilient work yet.

Only Ms. Arnold can speak on the present condition of her heart, but as for her vocals, they're in tip-top shape. The performer, who co-wrote a couple of the tracks and shares production credits with the likes of Ne-Yo, Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox and Stargate, is more vulnerable and emotive this time around, whether she's breathlessly gushing in the worshipful lover boy tribute, "Superman" ("The way that you do me is something like a movie, waking up to you is like waking up to Superman"), being adored by her soul mate from her head to toe ("Love All Over Me") or being rendered so transparent by love that she's forced to face the woman she truly is in his presence ("Mirror"). But like Mary J. once sang, "it ain't all roses," because she's struggling with leaving an unrepentant loser in "Stay or Go" and pleading for another chance in the regret-filled, tear-stained "One In a Lifetime."

Although Still... is decidedly ballad-heavy and the one club-worthy track is a warmed-over interpolation of an immortal Evelyn "Champagne" King hit ("Betcha She Don't Love You"), it doesn't negate its potency; on the title track with fellow ATLien, Ludacris, the stark synthesizers and probing lyrics add to the strength of her testimony as to why she has every right to call herself a survivor: "I had a lover take his soul in front of me, I asked God 'why is this happening to me?'...Tryin' to tell you how it's sposed' to be, see this is more than just a song to me." Neglect from her current boo has her turning to a 'homey/lover/friend' for the attention she craves in "Here I Am," and "Believing In Me" probably hits too close to home for her now, but succeeds in giving a tired player (*cough* Rocko?) the heave-ho as she decides that spending time alone is most definitely the greatest love of all: "I've moved on, and I'm strong," she declares with pain-laden resolve, "I'm going back to the place, where I know I belong. Cuz' I'm right, and you're wrong, cuz' you're not what I need, so this time I'm believing in me."

Still Standing could stand some more bounce, boogie or occasional bravado, but otherwise, it betters her previous release by leaps and bounds. Instead of being cool and cagey, Monica displays the woman that she is now and gives glorious hints of the one she is destined to become. And while the bloggers speculate, tongues wag and fingers point, Monica can keep her head held high and keep on keeping on, because soon enough, the growing pains will cease and she'll prove to everyone that not only is she Still Standing, but that as her generation's strongest songstress,  she'd never actually left. 

By Melody Charles

 
Featured Album - Michael Mayo - Bones
Choice Cut - Ascendant feat. Angela Johnson - "It's Not Over"
Song of the Month - Ty Causey feat. Monet Cherise - "U-Turn"
Album of the Month - Derrick "Doc" Pearson - A Family Man

Leave a comment!