Say what you will about Christina Aguilera, but you can’t say the girl can’t sing. If you’re a fan of technically proficient power vocals, you’re likely a fan of her singing — if not always her work. Aguilera’s voice is flawless, so the success of her albums typically depends on how willing the public is to buy in to whatever persona she is trying on, be it sexy, empowered bad girl (2002’s “Stripped”), sexy jazz baby (2006’s “Back to Basics”) or sexy cyborg (2010’s edgy commercial failure “Bionic”).
On “Lotus,” the role is sexy, ethereal dance diva, and at first it seems like a bad fit. On “Lotus Intro,” Aguilera’s voice, her most powerful tool, is modulated beyond recognition. Uh-oh.
Luckily, Aguilera sounds more like herself on the frenzied “Red Hot Kinda Love,” with its yodeled chorus, and on the electro-pop club single “Your Body,” which stays in the album’s synth-driven sonic pocket but lets Aguilera belt. The familiar power ballads eventually come along, as Aguilera appeases her base with the healing-through-music track “Sing for Me” and the vulnerable “Blank Page,” which is about hackneyed metaphors and big notes — just the sort of combination that will appeal to fans of Aguilera’s signature song “Beautiful.”
Two of the album’s stranger tracks feature her fellow judges on the NBC talent show “The Voice.” “Make the World Move,” with Cee Lo Green, sounds like a fun-house dance version of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” while “Just A Fool” with Blake Shelton is a straightforward country-pop piece tacked onto the end of the album. The voices are great, of course, but the song selection could use a little work.
“Your Body,” “Sing for Me”