Celine Dion Courage

REVIEW: ‘Courage’ – Celine Dion

Celine Dion – “Courage”

by Christopher Smith

Six years after “Loved Me Back To Life“, Celine Dion is back with her twelfth English language album, “Courage”. It’s amazing to think that nearly thirty years have now passed since her first, “Unison“, in 1990. Since then there have been ten others that have collectively sold over 140 million copies worldwide, and that’s not counting the singles that came from them, the greatest hits packages and many French language albums in a career that spans nearly forty years!

Having spent many years ‘in residence’ in Las Vegas, “Courage” is the culmination of two years of recording and self-searching following the death of her Husband Rene in 2016. Celine has worked with some giant names including David Guetta, Sia Furler, Jon Levine, Eg White and many others to bring her latest long player to the table, which has already seen the release of three tracks, including the title track in the past three months, together with “Flying On My Own”, which debuted earlier this Summer. So let’s see what Celine has for us this time…

At 20 tracks long (the deluxe edition) this is going to take some getting through! “Courage” begins with the first single “Flying On My Own”, and uplifting EDM track very much in the style of Celine’s opening number from her last album. It’s the danciest that Celine has offered since, probably, “I Drove All Night” back in 2003. “Lovers Never Die” has sass and funk as Celine restricts the voice back to its gravelly roots.

“Falling In Love Again” is our first song veering into ballad territory, sung with style against the backdrop of just a bare piano. Sublime. “Lying Down” is more of a traditional Celine ballad c.late 90’s, surprising as David Guetta co-wrote and produced it. It was released as a taster track a month before the release of “Courage”. Speaking of which, the title track is up next and the most recently released track from the album. A heartfelt piano ballad in which Celine opens up to her own insecurities with lines like “courage, don’t you dare fail me now”.

“Imperfections” ramps up the tempo thanks to production from DJ and producer DallasK. Again, it’s another track that explores Celine’s own personal stature and, despite being one of the world’s greatest selling artists, she is certainly not perfect. Jon Levine (Dua Lipa, Avril Lavigne) offers the next track, with a sure, solid beat and Celine’s ever-rising vocals, this song has real soul and atmosphere. “Say Yes” is one of those really cute tracks Celine often delivers, like “Thank You” from the last album, again it’s stripped back and ever so simple but in being crafted that way, makes it standout above many others.

“Nobody’s Watching” comes from the same pen as “Say Yes” and “Flying On My Own” (Jörgen Elofsson and Liz Rodrigues), this time Celine slips back into sass and style as she wants to “dance, dance, dance, like nobody’s watching”. At times it doesn’t sound like Celine at all singing, her voice has touched notes perhaps yet not explored. “The Chase” is another easy-listening mid-tempo ballad that sits perfectly with Celine at this time of her life and career. With a splash of Country, it harks back to a number of tracks that featured on her “Let’s Talk About Love” album, so one for die-hard Celine fans!

None other than Britain’s Sam Smith offers the next song “For The Lover That I Lost”, and it’s quite obvious this is a song dedicated to the memory of Rene. “A dozen red roses, I lay them there for you” Celine leaves for ‘the lover that she lost’ in this torrid piano eulogy. Sia Furler provides the next song, “Baby”, more sass and class with a large dose of R&B. Another British hitmaker Eg White gives the next song to Celine, “I Will Be Stronger”, the antidote to “For The Lover That I Lost”, speaks of rising up and getting on with life. “I didn’t ask to be set free” sings Celine but laments “sometimes love must die to be born again”.

“How Did You Get Here?” is a song written by R&B/hip-hop group The Stereotypes which has its roots firmly set in the jazz era with a hint of gospel, complete with the organ and choir backing Celine as she deals with another new style so easily and free. “Look At Us Now” could almost of been recorded by Duffy, it’s in that style and again with great 60’s influence. “Perfect Goodbye” wraps up the standard version of the album and is another lament to Rene as Celine sings the perfect goodbye: “goodnight baby, kiss me now, don’t be sad”. “God’s got a plan, it’s out of our hands” is the wisdom she speaks and conveys to anyone that has lost a loved one.

The deluxe edition features four additional tracks, the first of which is the smoky “Best of All”. It’s like Celine is singing in a midnight bar which just a few customers left after a long night with many drinks sunk. Sia’s back with “Heart of Glass”, more superb EDM-pop that you wonder why this wasn’t included on the started edition of the album. “Boundaries” is another piano ballad while, Greg Wells (OneRepublic, Adele) provides the final, final track “The Hard Way” and allows Celine to unleash ‘that voice’ for a perfect encore. Go Celine, go!

“Courage” is a solid collection of songs that largely returns to a traditional Celine album, not seen since “Taking Chances“, or perhaps even further back to the likes of “Let’s Talk About Love“. Her voice is gritty and smoky for the most part and in only a few songs, is allowed to truly be set free. After six years away, this will be a welcome addition to any Celine collection and should prove successful with many millions of copies sold. It depends on how you want your Celine Dion songs to be. Loud and awesome or snappy and effervescent. There are twenty tracks to choose from here, so take your pick…!

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