Celine Dion

A New Day Has Come (Sony)

During a recent segment on Today, host Matt Lauer asked Celine Dion about her claim in a previous interview that she enjoyed changing the diapers of her first child, René-Charles. Dion replied that this was definitely the case, in part because when she opened up the wrapper encasing her tot's caboose in the moments after he'd done his business, she inevitably found "the truth" inside.

Viewed from this perspective, A New Day Has Come is absolutely overflowing with truth. It's arguably the truest album of the year -- so damned true that listeners would be well-advised to have a hazardous-materials crew on hand before cracking the jewel box. "Rain, Tax (It's Inevitable)," a slab of faux Toni Braxton, tosses out one nugget of truth after another, and "At Last," on which Dion tries her mightiest to sound bluesy, is, to put it succinctly, a real piece of truth.

On the other hand, applying the traditional definition of "the truth" to Dion's latest release can result in rather different conclusions. No one disputes that the woman has pipes; she's practically a human blast furnace. But the settings for the songs, presumably whipped up under the supervision of executive producer Vito Luprano, are like the façades on a Hollywood back lot: They look fine at first glance, but there's absolutely nothing behind them. The tunes fall into a variety of styles, including balladry ("Aun Existe Amor"), theatrical goo ("Goodbye's [The Saddest Word]"), Sheryl Crow-style rock ("Ten Days"), and pop gospel (the remix of the title cut, cowritten by -- I kid you not -- '80s rock-trivia answer Aldo Nova). However, Dion seems more interested in demonstrating her versatility than in legitimately baring her soul (assuming she has one). On the throwback disco of "Sorry for Love," she hits every note smack on the noggin, but she seems not to mean a single word she warbles. Paging Gloria Gaynor.

In the end, then, your ability to enjoy A New Day Has Come will depend upon whether you like the sort of truth that feels real and sincere or the kind that stinks to high heaven. Now, where'd I put that Lysol?

 
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