My first impression of soul and R&B artist Monica's seventh studio album, New Life, is that it's nothing more than mediocre. The album showcases her vocal talents, but none of the songs leave a lasting impression.
Over the years, Monica has not experimented too much with her music. I really wished this album were bolder, given its hopeful title, But you don't get any sense of that in the music.
The deluxe edition includes four extra tracks, most notably Anything (To Find You), featuring rapper Rick Ross. It's one of the better and more unusual tracks on the album, with a mixture of R&B and rap. It's upbeat and high tempo, and it's a shame it's not on the standard album.
Without You is a warm, heartfelt ballad which really demonstrates Monica's vocal abilities. She hits the high notes absolutely effortlessly. The song then descends into a repetitive instrumental solo, which takes up the last minute.
Monica has definitely grown up since her debut - it's hard to imagine today's performer sounding anything like the 15-year-old who released Miss Thang. However, the New Life Monica has not strayed far from what got her here in the first place. A better title would be Same Life.