The London Sessions

The London Sessions

by Mary J. BligeMary J. Blige


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Mary J. Blige had a productive 2014. Early in the year, she linked with Disclosure for an alternate version of the U.K. duo's "F for You" and performed with them in New York. A few months later, there was the release of the all-Blige soundtrack for the comedy Think Like a Man Too, which consisted of new material but was neither presented nor promoted like one of her standard releases. At some point, Blige signed to Capitol, and she took longtime collaborator Rodney Jerkins to England to work more with Disclosure, as well as with other emerging songwriters and producers, including Vibe cover star Sam Smith, Naughty Boy, and Emeli Sandé. The move was evidently significant enough to warrant the album's title and the placement of the collaborators' names on the cover. It's not that the changeup revitalized Blige. The London Sessions just happens to have her best round of songs, productions, and performances since The Breakthrough, the 2005 album Smith references in one of several unnecessary testimonials and interview snippets placed throughout the sequence of songs. A couple moments are stilted and there's some substandard songwriting, such as the woeful "I'll keep gettin' up, 'cause that's what I'm goin' to do/Gonna be the best me, I'm sorry if it kills you," from the otherwise fine "Doubt." The London Sessions nonetheless offers a sharp mix of duly aching ballads and substantive, highly detailed club tracks that are in the soul-rooted lineage of classics she has referenced, covered, and emulated throughout her career. Blige sounds as comfortable as ever over the scuffing percussion, prodding synthesizers, and even the noodling clarinet heard, at various points, in the likes of "Right Now," "My Loving," "Pick Me Up," and "Follow." The songs explore themes familiar to Blige's listeners, yet little is less than fresh. Among the ballads, the Sandé collaboration "Whole Damn Year" is the most striking, disarming in its depiction of recovering from emotional and physical abuse, while "Therapy," one of four songs made with Smith, is surprisingly understated, seemingly inspired more by Anthony Hamilton's Southern gospel-soul.

Product Details

Release Date: 12/02/2014
Label: Capitol
UPC: 0602547007193
catalogNumber: 002215802
Rank: 62425

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mary J. Blige   Primary Artist
Earl Harvin   Drums
Marc Kinchen   Keyboards
Craig Brockman   Organ,Piano
Rodney Jerkins   Keyboards
Everton Nelson   Leader
Eg White   Organ,Guitar,Drums
Ben Jones   Guitar
Jodi Milliner   Bass
Jeff Gitelman   Guitar
Karin McIntosh   Piano,Hammond Organ
Disclosure   Background Vocals
Jimmy Napes   Piano,Background Vocals
Michael "Fish" Herring   Guitar
Sam Smith   Background Vocals
Sam Romans   Synthesizer,Keyboards,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Craze   Producer
Mary J. Blige   Composer,Executive Producer
Steve Fitzmaurice   Producer,Engineer,Vocal Producer
Isobel Griffiths   String Contractor
Marc Kinchen   Programming,Producer
Simon Hale   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Rodney Jerkins   Composer,Programming,Producer,Vocal Producer
Todd Gallopo   Art Direction
Hoax   Producer
James Murray   Composer
MJ Cole   Producer
D'Andre Michael   Cover Photo
Eg White   Composer,Producer
Jonathan Allen   Engineer
T.J. River   Art Direction
Naughty Boy   Producer
Lucy Whalley   Assistant Contractor
Ben Harrison   Composer
M. Coleman   Composer
Emeli Sandé   Composer
Disclosure   Producer,Engineer,Vocal Producer
Jimmy Napes   Producer,Engineer
James Napier   Composer
Harry Craze   Composer
Sam Smith   Composer
Matt Champlin   Engineer
Shahid Khan   Composer
Trehy Harris   Engineer
Hugo Chegwin   Composer
Mustafa Omar   Composer
Howard Lawrence   Composer
Guy Lawrence   Composer
Shakil Ashraf   Composer
Shakavelli   Producer
Sam Romans   Composer,Producer
Knox Brown   Composer,Producer
Howrd Lawrence   Composer

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