Celine Dion – “Taking Chances”
Shortly after releasing “One Heart“, Celine Dion took up ‘residency’ in Las Vegas for what would be some considerable time. There was the odd new track released over the following years, but her first major album and single releases came four and a half years after “One Heart”. It was more than welcome.
For Celine’s eighth English language studio album, she returned to the more tried and trusted formula of big, showcase numbers and ballads, having ‘dabbled’ with pop and dance with the former album. By November 2007, the album was ready to be revealed to an eager world and this is what she sounded like…
1. Taking Chances
Many of the writers from Celine’s past three albums would return for this new collection, including Kara DioGuardi, but joining them were a new batch of newcomers, some of them very well known, including The Eurythmics Dave Stewart, who co-writes the first track that was also released as the lead single. “Taking Chances” is classic Celine and should be more than welcomed by die-hard Dion fans for its sheer epic quality and of course, the return of the power vocal from the middle-eight onwards. It is rockier and that’s hardly surprising with Mr. Stewart in command and with lines like “my heart is beatin’ down, but I’m always comin’ back for more”, the song is about taking risks in love, exemplified with the first line of the chorus: “But what do you say to taking chances?, What do you say to jumpin’ off the edge?” The song was met with instant acclaim as was the ‘racey’ accompanying video which also featured Stewart and Celine both on motorbikes. The I-Soul remix of the song topped the US dance charts and “Taking Chances” also went to number one in Canada. It has sold over 500,000 copies in the US and duplicated that internationally.
Accustomed as it is to have a cover version or two on a Celine Dion album, the next track is a re-working of Heart’s 1987 chart topper, written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, whom Celine had worked with on “Falling Into You” and of course, her version of “I Drove All Night“. Celine’s version of “Alone” is more than faithful to the original as well as injecting her own stamp upon it, and of course the song demands a strong performance, something Celine is very capable of. It was released as a single and became a hit in America, The UK and Canada, if not perhaps the smash the former had been, maybe as that was seven months on from the release of the album most people had already acquired that. Definitely one of her best covers.
3. Eyes On Me
Celine goes all Eastern now with the help of the returning Kristian Lundin, who joins up with Delta Goodrem (what happened to her?) for this Persian-sounding semi-dance number that has an epic feel to it with its thunderous back tracks and Celine’s echoing vocals filled with passion and charm all at the same time. “Eyes On Me” was released as the second single at the beginning of 2008, although only internationally, where it was a lukewarm performer. Perhaps people were not too ready for Celine as a belly dancer?(!)
4. My Love
Familiar ballad territory now thanks to hit songwriter Linda Perry (Christian Aguilera, Gwen Stefani), which allows all the power and emotion in Celine’s voice to get a good airing. You can feel the Perry effect in both production and presentation, which ‘encourages’ Celine to put her best soft rock voice on, not seen since the “Falling Into You” album.
5. Shadow Of Love
“Shadow Of Love” gets us back on track with a lively, amazing track from writers Anders Bagge (“Have You Ever Been In Love?“) and Aldo Nova, a veteran Celine songwriter, this picks up from where “Taking Chances” leaves off, a soft-rock/pop number. Superb vocals and overlapping backing vocals elevate this to an even plain with the aforementioned track and one wishes it could of been released as a single. It’s more than worthy of it!
6. Surprise, Surprise
Don’t worry, Celine isn’t going to single the title of a 1980’s British TV programme with Celia Black(!), instead it’s back to CountryCeline, not experienced since so many glorious numbers on the “One Heart” album. Kara (DioGuardi) is back on songwriting duties along with Martin Harrington and Ash Howes, two high-profile producer/writers of the 00’s, best known at the time for co-writing “Love At First Sight” with Kylie Minogue. Again, this is another standout track, more than deserving of being a single in its own right. I love the lyric “Tonight. I’m a chameleon” at the start of the second verse, sung with such deliciousness by Celine!
7. This Time
Showtime, perhaps what Celine had been learning whilst in Las Vegas, with “This Time”, a dark and moody ballad, very much in the style of “Just Walk Away” from “The Colour Of My Love” album. Celine’s vocal matches the style dictated by such a number. I love the ending with it’s multi-tonal “oh” and “ah”s and echoing that cause yet more shivers down the spine when listening.
8. New Dawn
Linda Perry song number two, which Celine in near-gospel tone with the opening line “Jesus, I will follow”, this continues as a choir joins her for the long, chanting finale, this song would actually like to be “In The Ghetto” by the man himself, and I’m sure he was there in the studio, when Celine laid this track down. He vocal is earthy as it is emotional and within a slit moment, she takes it down, breathy and sublime. This is something very different, not yet experienced on a Celine Dion album.
9. A Song For You
More show tunes now with this piano ballad from Bagge and Nova along with Swedish writer Robert Wells, who also plays piano on the track. It’s very intimate and delivers on the title.
10. A World To Believe In
Tino Izzo and Rosanna Ciciola provide the next number, a traditional Celine song with big notes and awesome scope, that was later ‘re-imagined’ and re-recorded as a duet with America-Japanese singer Yuna Ito and released as a single in Japan, where it peaked at No.3. The song was also featured in the film ‘Maboroshi no Yamataikoku’ that year (2008), although the original version presented here is more than a delight for Celine aficionados with positivity in lines like “and feeling this love I can rise up above, and be strong and be whole once again”, more suited to Celine’s style than depressing and negative ones about losing love.
11. Can’t Fight The Feeling
More rock from Aldo Nova, that harks back to songs like “Your Light“, and again a positive song in which Celine describes “being alive”, “a natural high”, “hooked on a feeling” and above all, she “can’t fight the feeling”. This is full of life and body and sparks all the way to the end.
12. I Got Nothing Left
Another piano ballad now from none other than Shaffer Chimere Smith aka Ne-Yo and Chuck Harmon. This is a soulful number with R’n’B flavours that Celine works with easily and without much effort, although the tone is taken down again with words like “I gave you my best, and you treated it worthless”. Hmm.
13. Right Next To The Right One
Following on from that other ‘right’ titled song “When The Wrong One Loves You Right“, comes a ‘right’ rippin’ ‘right’ tune when you’re “Right Next To The Right One”! Danish singer/songwriter Tim Christensen of Dizzy Mizz Lizzy delivers this country guitar number, which does so well round the camp fire!
14. Fade Away
Some badly needed energy now from Peer Åström with the firey “Fade Away” a short, soft-rock/pop anthem which Celine deals with, with grit and energy as the drums and guitars build to almost drown her out. Not Celine, she provides the backing vocals which make for a duo of Celine’s battling it out to the choir of violins that come to a sudden end and close of this great track.
15. That’s Just The Woman In Me
Katrina and The Waves guitarist Kimberely Rew writes this next song, another soft-rock/R&B number with some very raspy and smoky vocals from Celine, she almost wants to be Tina (Turner) but retains her own identity as she beckons you to “come on over, you got nothing to lose…that’s just the woman working on you!”. Maybe that should of been the title of the song?
16. Skies Of LA
We end with a gorgeous piano ballad mas most Celine album’s do. It’s not part two of “I Remember LA“, but is certainly lush and sweet and fades away far too soon. The song is written by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Terius Youngdell Nash aka ‘The-Dream’ (“Umbrella”), two more high profile songwriters who join the army of top class talent brought in to get Celine back in the charts.
Celine’s new album was titled “Taking Chances” after the lead single, which re-established her in the global charts, four and a half years after “One Heart” was released, so it was hardly surprising that fans were by now desperate for something new. “Taking Chances” topped the Canadian album chart, Celine’s FIFTEENTH number one there, as well as in Switzerland. The album made the top ten in a further twenty one countries including the US, where it peaked at No.3 selling over a million copies and No.6 in the UK, where it shifted 400,000 copies.
The album received Platinum discs from Australia, Denmark, Ireland and South Africa and would eventually sell over four million copies globally, odd as it felt this ‘rebirth’ and return to form was so well received and celebrated and yet the album sold a million less than its predecessor. Celine toured the world in 2008 in support of the album over the next twelve months triumphantly, however, becoming the third highest grossing tour by a female artist of all time, prior to settling back to Las Vegas later on in 2009. It would be some considerable length of time before her next studio album appeared, so for now “Taking Chances” is what we have and there are a lot of tracks to choose from. What are your favourites?
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