Going into the first listen of Mariah's new offering, I'm immediately put off by the ridiculous title of the record - and track number 12 'Money ($ * / ...)' - but putting that aside and refusing to judge an album by its cover, I simply let the music play.

Mariah has a lot to prove with this body of work. She's been a major name in the music industry for as long as I can remember, and with new music in the works for quite some time she has to deliver something to show she's still a force to be reckoned with.

Features come in the form of Nas, Miguel, Wale and Fabolous which should give fans and casual listeners a hint as to the genre this record will be catering to, but it should be noted that the best tracks are those she takes on solo (not to rain on the collaborative track's parade, they're quite good, too.)

Iconic for being a diva, that attitude so many are sure she possesses comes across in spades in tracks such as 'Thirsty' - she isn't afraid to let her feelings be known and more power to her for it. Women shouldn't be held down because of their gender and shamed for standing up, being proud and sticking it to 'em.

The overwhelming feeling you'll get from listening to this album is that Mariah is no longer afraid to simply be herself without feeling the need to cater to themes and genres she isn't as strong in. She's finally leaving that to others and excelling in an area of vocal technique she's always been one of the best in.

Piano-driven 'You Don't Know What To Do (Feat. Wale)' starts off with an amazing build of musical tension, tarred only with the unneccessary rambling of Wale which eventually turns into something special when the beat kicks in, and resulting in a mix of 90's-esque pop music that makes it one of the best tunes on the collection.

I get what I'm hoping for in 'Supernatural' - exploration of the adoration she holds for her twins and family life, and it's these little glimpses into the personal and most relatable parts of The Mariah Carey that are most memorable. Mariah even takes a leaf out of Beyoncé and Jay-Z's book by including actual snippets of her children's laughter and speech throughout the track. It's utterly adorable. Then, as you may have seen in the press, the kids sing some of their own notes. "I'm a chanteuse!" says one of the kids, before Mariah replies: "I know you are, darling!"

Mariah shows throughout this record that whilst her voice may have been put through the ringer in the past, it still sounds as good as it ever has done and when given the right song, she still has the ability to surprise and impress. The whistle register is still very much intact.

'Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse' is being streamed on iTunes US radio today, with international official release coming on Monday May 26.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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