The centerpiece and title track of Mary J. Blige’s 14th album is an emotional display of self-love—the kind of song that, after three decades of heartbreak anthems, feels like the soft landing spot she’s been searching for this entire time. “All the times that I hated myself, all the times that I wanted to be someone else, all the times that I should’ve been gentle with me,” she sings in the second verse. “I wake up every morning and tell myself, ‘Good morning gorgeous.’” Across the album, her voice sounds just as convincing as it has all these years, contoured in soul and grit. Her lyrics, though, beautifully reflect her life experiences, evolved and brimming with wisdom.
There are no histrionics to be found here; she knows what she wants and will put up with nothing less. On songs like “Love Without the Heartbreak” (“I’m so got’damn sick of the pain,” she cries on the hook) and “Enough” (“You can’t see what you got at home, you dead wrong not to fight for it,” goes that chorus), she sounds genuinely fed up, far from the wounded defeat of those beloved earlier releases. It’s no small feat to have a career and catalog as long and storied as Mary J.’s, and here she reveals some of the secret. Her brand of R&B is uniquely hers, ebbing and flowing with the waves of her own life; here, her take on love feels honest and lived-in without the pretense of autobiography. Good Morning Gorgeous stands up as not just a possible blueprint for artistic longevity, but also a model for how to love yourself even when others have failed to.