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RAY OF LIGHT has been hailed as Madonna's foray into electronica. This overlooks her collaboration with Nellee Hooper and Björk on the title track from BEDTIME STORIES, but never mind; it's good hype, and the album is worthy of some level of fuss. Although she first sought Prodigy's Liam Howlett, Madonna ended up collaborating with William Orbit, whose light, intricately detailed, sonic textures are a perfect foil for her new and improved singing (those voice lessons for "Evita" really paid off). Lyrically, Madonna deals with the two biggest changes in her life -- motherhood and her spiritual awakening -- and "Drowned World/Substitute for Love" and "Swim" are two of the prettier songs in her entire repertoire. Although things get a little heavy-handed at times (did we really need a pumped version of the Hindu chant "Om Shanti"?), the album marks a sea change in her presentation, with the anger and defiance of her best work replaced by genuine warmth. Still, Madonna is capable of building on past strengths, and "Nothing Really Matters" captures the anthemic qualities of past hits like "Express Yourself" and "Vogue." For years, Madonna has successfully articulated extreme poses (bitch, vixen, dominatrix). Now she's presenting more moderate positions with the same level of eloquence.
|Label:||Warner Bros / Wea|