Mariah Carey’s fourteenth studio album, The Art of Letting Go, has had an epic roll-out—and not in a good way. The then-untitled album’s first single, “Triumphant (Get ’Em),” was released way back in August of 2012 and landed with a thud, while “#Beautiful,” which dropped nine months later and was christened the project’s new lead single, failed to crack the Top 10. Known for her quick turn-around (she released seven albums in the ’90s alone), Mimi is apparently having trouble learning the new album’s titular skill, having pushed the release of The Art of Letting Go from last July to sometime next year. Perhaps motherhood has made the singer a little nervous about showing her latest baby to the world.
Or maybe she’s just hoping third time’s the charm. Six months after “#Beautiful,” Mariah has unveiled the title track from the album, a string-laden piano ballad with a simple, demo-style loop that throws back to her early days. “I’m makin’ a statement,” she starts, her vocals nearly as scratchy as the track’s faux vinyl surface noise. While the reliability of Mariah’s upper register might be a thing of the past, she shows off her less-fêted lower range throughout and takes it to church in the song’s final minute. And though the lack of a discernable hook means it’s unlikely to rehabilitate Mariah’s former chart glory, this one was clearly intended for the lambs. Contemporary lyrics like “Go to ’Mimi’ on your contacts…press delete” and the single’s über-airbrushed Sports Illustrated-style cover art don’t quite square with the track’s old-school soul vibe, but no matter: If this and “#Beautiful” are a sign of what’s to come from the album, Mimi can put her nerves to rest.
The Art of Letting Go, if she ever lets it go, will be Mariah’s first album since 2010’s Merry Christmas II You.