"I could not believe what I was hearing," Dion says of songs submitted to her for her first English-language album in six years
Celine Dion would like you to know that "Loved Me Back To Life" (Nov. 5) will be her edgiest record to date -- just not in the ways you might think.
By way of example, she sings a few bars of the song "Water And A Flame," originally recorded by Daniel Merriweather and Adele, which finds her utilizing the lower, grainier register of her voice. On the phone from her home in Las Vegas, Dion sings, "I need a drink to get me out / A couple more til I forget your name," using a deeper tone that is still distinctly hers even as it suggests the smokier hues employed by Adele. "A few years ago, I would have pronounced it 'a couple of more,'" Dion says, "I would have sung [stretches out the notes] 'till I forget your naaaame.' So for me, it's very, very different. I'm using my bedroom hair, bedroom voice."
More unexpected still is the lead single, due Tuesday (Sept. 3) on iTunes. "Loved Me Back To Life," the album's title track, was penned by Sia and produced by Sham and Motesart. Dion debuted the song in late July during a live show in Quebec City, and is in the early stages of figuring out how to incorporate it into her ongoing residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Sung in a minor key, the song is a different kind of power ballad for Dion, backed by a chorus that features a beat drop that could almost be described as dubstep.
"There was a point in my career I can remember for maybe 10 years it was all about, 'Who's gonna hold a note longer? Who's gonna sing the note higher?' And that's what the industry demanded," Dion says of the different approach. "It's not that we were in competition with each other. None of the singers who were doing that stuff wanted that… It has to evolve at some point, even if it's just for yourself. I can't wait to go onstage and sing these songs."
The new album (via Columbia) also features a pair of tracks written by Ne-Yo, including the duet "Incredible," which sounds so massive the Olympic Committee should start bookmarking it for the 2014 Winter Games. There's also collaborations with Babyface, Tricky Stewart, and Swedish trio Play Production, the latter of whom produced the beat-driven "Somebody Loves Someone," penned by Audra Mae (Avicii's upcoming "True.") And because it's still a Celine Dion album, "Loved Me Back To Life" features two covers — Janis Ian's "At Seventeen," and a reverent take on "Overjoyed," which doubles as a duet with Stevie Wonder himself.
That Dion received new songs at all is still a surprise to her, having last released an English-language album in 2007 ("Taking Chances"). "I've been gone for six years. There's a time where you think, 'Do you think people will write songs for me?'" she says. "I'm at the mercy of the songs because I don't write my material. But I could not believe what I was hearing. I'm not trying to reinvent myself, I don't want people to think. 'This is a brand new Celine,' but I am at a place in my career where I'm 45, I'm at the peak of my life, and I've never felt like this before. I want to have a good time."