Let's get this straight from the get go. Diana Ross has never been a powerful, extended-range vocalist. But then, not every pop singer has to be able to do vocal pyrotechnics in order to deliver; the goods can still arrive. On Every Day Is A New Day Miss Ross finally gets back on track recordingwise and gives almost the equivalent of a FedEx delivery.
This time, Ross' material is head and shoulders above her most recent outings. The appeal is nearly universal covering young listeners, long-time fans, and the pop and r&b markets. Although vocally sounding a bit weak and sometimes strained, Ross is supported by good melodies, slick arrangements, and strong backing vocals, vaguely reminiscent of the formula that made her Supreme back in the early days of Motown. However, when pressed, the legendary diva does turn up the volume a bit like on her cover of Martha Wash's "Carry On" in which she gives a near Ashford and Simpson-produced performance. I suspect that her intense diva aura could intimidate some producers. Should Ross spit out a mediocre lead performance, the quivering producer is probably likely to settle for a less-than-perfect take rather than to ask her to do it again. For example, on one of the best cuts, "Not Over You Yet," (my personal favorite) after opening the song in a semi-strong manner, Ross almost hands the last half of this catchy tune over to her background where they simply repeat the chorus while Ross has apparently left the studio for coffee. You pat your foot and hum along with it providing your own ad lib lead until the song fades. Ross has never been known for ad libbing a la the Spinners' Philippe Wynne, but it's too bad she didn't take a little more control on this one. It has the potential to make a strong single and video.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ross does stimulate with songs like "Sugarfree," produced by Chuckii Booker who himself had a hit with the song "Games" in 1992. Also assisting in the production chores is long-time Aretha Franklin producer Arif Mardin who provides us with some of the best highlights of the album including the African-flavored "He Lives In You" (another personal favorite) from the Broadway musical The Lion King, the moving ballad "Love Is All That Matters," and "Someone That You Loved Before" which boasts backing vocals from Luther Vandross favorites Lisa Fischer and Fonzi Thornton. Miss Ross even ventures into writing on this outing, albeit not for the first time, listed as a co-writer of the inspirational "Hope Is An Open Window."
All in all, Every Day Is A New Day is a far superior set than previous recent Diana Ross offerings. There are no filler songs; each tune stands on its own merit and with the right promotion and videos, any one of them could easily become a successful single. Ross gives special thanks to Kedar Massenburg, founder of Kedar Entertainment and recently appointed president of Motown Records. Massenburg was instrumental in Erykah Badu's success, signing her to his label then releasing her first hit "On and On" in 1997. Recently, I've been able to imagine Erykah Badu playing Diana Ross in the Diana Ross and the Supremes story. The similarities? Badu has a similar build as Ross did in those early days as well as an instantly recognizable face and voice. Badu could easily play the various stages of Ross' career including Supreme, soloist, and film star. In addition, a recent record company merger placed Badu on Motown Records. Overlapping various entertainment genres is something Badu has indicated she'd like to do and it stands to reason that such a project would probably only propel Badu's career into the stratosphere, providing both Ross and Badu with what would most assuredly be a great new day.
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Supremes 1970s and Diana Ross