Mariah Carey will begin climbing the comeback ladder with the Dec. 10 release of her new studio album, the first in a multi-album deal with Island Def Jam. The as-yet-untitled set will be issued on Ca

Mariah Carey will begin climbing the comeback ladder with the Dec. 10 release of her new studio album, the first in a multi-album deal with Island Def Jam. The as-yet-untitled set will be issued on Carey's own MonarC Music imprint and features production work by Irv Gotti, Jermaine Dupri, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, among others. According to the label, 20 tracks have already been recorded; a single is tentatively due in late September.

No other details have yet been released, and it is not known if the artist will attempt to mount a tour in support of the album. In a May interview about the set with the Hollywood Reporter, Carey said she was "going to wherever the creative energy takes me. I'm not trying to sound New Age-y, but it's true. I'm doing a lot of stuff with live musicians, and I'm doing a lot of ballads."

"There are a lot of songs I've done in the past that are very introspective and personal," Carey added. "This album has a lot of those type of songs. But it also has celebratory, fun songs; I'm not going to sit there and dwell. People are always asking, 'Is everything OK?' Look, I was not depressed; I was freaking exhausted."

Carey is referring to her much publicized breakdown in the summer of 2001, which some say contributed to disastrous box-office numbers for her feature film debut, "Glitter," and the Virgin soundtrack of the same name. "Glitter" was the only album Carey issued on Virgin after leaving her long-time home of Columbia Records. In January, she exited a long-term contract with Virgin for a buyout of close to $30 million.

In the meantime, Carey's single "Loverboy" featuring Da Brat and Ludacris is among the finalists for top R&B/hip-hop single - sales at the 2002 Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, to be handed out Friday (Aug. 9) in Miami.