On the two-CD, 22-song “Back to Basics,” Christina Aguilera’s aim is no less ambitious than to pay homage to her musical heroes while inventing something completely new. The first disc, primarily produced by DJ Premier, combines old-song sensibilities with hip-hop elements, samples and modern technology. Disc two, produced by Linda Perry, features all live instrumentation with no samples. Old-timey sounds were captured using vintage microphones sometimes covered with cloth to get a muffled effect.
On this, her third English-language studio album, Aguilera says, “I still feel the need to open myself up.” Indeed, on “Back to Basics,” she sings poignantly about walking down the aisle alone on her November wedding day in “The Right Man.”
On “Oh Mother,” she praises her mother’s bravery and courage in the face of her father’s abuse. Aguilera has no qualms about revealing her most vulnerable feelings, and, in fact, draws strength from it. “I feel a responsibility almost to share some of these things that aren’t kind of the brighter sides of my life,” she says. “If I can give [people] something that they can relate to they might not feel as alone in the circumstance.”
First single “Ain’t No Other Man” bows with old-time horn blasts and a sample from “Hippy, Skippy, Moon Strut” by the Moon People before exploding into an irresistibly fast-paced, toe-tapping declaration of love. The song is No. 8 this week on the Billboard Hot 100.