Mary J.’s 1994 sophomore album, My Life, was a stripped-down, achingly confessional collection of pleas to her then-boyfriend K-Ci from Jodeci. Seventeen years later, the queen of hip-hop soul presents a sequel of sorts that is healed, polished and celebratory. On “Midnight Drive,” she makes a late-night run into her baby’s arms, while “Love a Woman” finds her teaming up with Beyoncé to offer advice on how to treat a lady. Blige’s lyrics and vocals are assured, and the album exudes a certain resilience, as if the singer is standing taller after a hard-won journey.
Laura Checkoway, Google Play