It’s old school Mariah Carey on her new single, “The Art of Letting Go,” even to the point of the song opening to the sound of a needle dropping on a vinyl.
The string-laden ballad, which Carey calls “such a personal record to me,” recalls ‘60s soul with its slow build and deliberate laid-out lyrics as Mimi takes someone to task, someone who is now nothing more than a “liability.” “I wrote the lyrics so that anyone and everyone could relate to them and hopefully release anything that they need to let go of that’s holding them back or bringing them down,” Carey wrote on her Facebook page.
The confessional song reads like a journey entry, and let the guessing game begin on whom it is about. But private thoughts don’t always make for great public statements. As heartfelt as her sentiment may be, it’s a tremendously clunky one, as exemplified by these lyrics:
“Your audacity is too much to be believed soooooooooooo go to Mimi on your contacts, press delete/Letting go ain’t easy/ oh it’s just exceedingly hurtful/because someone you used to know is flinging your world around.”
Although we have to admit, the line about how to press delete is as campy and fierce as it is clumsy.
The Rodney Jerkins production builds into a nice girl group-like bridge and a really strong ending by Carey, but by then you’ve either bought in or you’ve tuned out to the lugubrious tune.
The good news for Carey fans is that her vocals sound bold, powerful and clear and a Carey who is eager to tell someone to crawl back under that rock after hurting her is usually a Carey worth listening to. Sadly, this one falls short.
“The Art of Letting Go” is the title track, or was the title track, to Carey’s 14th studio album, which was supposed to come out this summer, but was yanked to give her more time to work on it. It was originally slated for last year, but after first single “Triumphant (Get ‘Em)” didn’t build much excitement (except for some remixes) and “Beautiful” featuring Miguel peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it deserved to go higher), the project keeps getting retooled.