Celine Dion

A New Day Has Come

  • Epic

Following the celebrated career crash of Mariah Carey and the frequently bizarre, tabloid topping exploits of Whitney Houston, Canadian songbird Celine Dion has been working overtime to separate herself from her fellow divas.

But despite recent interviews where she's emphasized that all divas are not alike, Dion still sounds like one. This, her first set of new studio songs since 1997, falls smack dab into the same, soaring, middle-of-the-road brand of pop lite that she routinely turned into platinum each time she stepped near a microphone in the 1990s.

In other words, if you're the type who still swoons when you hear “My Heart Will Go On,” there's plenty you'll find to like on A New Day Has Come, which sticks safely to Dion's hit-making formula.

Short on emotion, but loaded with slick production and plenty of those high notes that she hangs her hat on, the album seeks to further cement Dion's status as this generation's Barbra Streisand. It's overblown to a fault, from the booming “Have You Ever Been in Love,” with its puffed-up string arrangement, to the ponderous “Goodbye's (The Saddest Word),” with its vocal histrionics and preprocessed backing.

Not surprisingly, some of the best moments on this disc are when Dion stops trying to be bigger than the song. Concept-wise, her versions of Etta James' “At Last” and especially Nat “King” Cole's “Nature Boy” are quite effective and relatively—at least by Dion's standards—subdued. And occasionally, like during the “radio remix” of the title track, the songs themselves are strong enough to rise above the forced feel of the production. But those are the exceptions rather than the rule on what's overall a very lifeless offering.

Kevin O'Hare