For those who wondered, perhaps gleefully, where Celine Dion could fit in the post-everything climate of 2003, the singer’s new album, One Heart, provides an answer so simple and obvious that it’s almost embarrassing. A middle-of-the-road mix of restrained pop ballads and club-friendly house anthems, the album draws on the strengths of last year’s A New Day Has Come and amplifies them. Though it lacks a stand-out achievement like the single “A New Day Has Come,” the album as a whole continues the restrained approach of her last record, both in production and performance. For the most part, Dion trades in her chest-pounding theatrics for the subtleties and nuances of songs like the delicate “In His Touch” and “Je T’aime Encore.” The former finds Dion delicately urging “If you wanna win my heart/Then, baby, just shut your mouth” without an ounce of irony. Dion gets the Cher treatment on a handful of tracks including “Reveal” and a blazing cover of Roy Orbison’s “I Drove All Night.” With the exception of “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” and “Love Is All We Need,” an R&B song that sounds like a leftover from Michael Jackson’s failed Invincible, the power ballad-friendly Dion never sounds out of place. In a way she seems reborn, her vocal rejuvenated, even girlish, throughout the album. The old Celine emerges only for the overwrought “I Know What Love Is” and the classic-sounding ballad “Have You Ever Been In Love,” a track originally from A New Day Has Come. Curiously, Dion & Co. also chose to record a deflated “2003 Version” of “Sorry for Love,” a formerly-upbeat house track that would have fit perfectly next to “I Drove All Night” and “One Heart.” But with enough edge to balance out the dorkiness of her three-year Las Vegas stint, One Heart may be the smartest album Dion could make at this stage in her career.
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