This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
Is there anything more annoying than a celebrity who’s just had a baby?
Hell, it’s bad enough when your friends have kids. First they trot out the pictures. Then they bring the screaming little dear to the office. Then they regale you with tales of Junior’s every meaningless milestone. Sheesh. At least you can tune them out by turning up the radio, turning on the TV, reading a magazine — or, if all else fails, whacking yourself in the noggin with a ball-peen hammer.
But when a superstar has kids, good luck escaping the fallout. Especially when said star is publicity-addicted uberdiva Celine Dion, a woman so consumed by self-importance she staged a worldwide PR blitz to make sure every Kalahari bushman knew she was “retiring” to start a family. Well, Celine’s retirement — interrupted only by near-weekly press bulletins detailing just how much she loved being out of the public eye — has mercifully ended. But you already knew that. Just as you already knew that she and her senior-citizen Svengali manager René Angélil now have a little bundle of frozen-embryo joy by the name of René-Charles. After all, unless you’ve been in a ball-peen hammer-induced coma, you can’t avoid hearing about Celine and her little hellspawn. It’s on every entertainment show, in every newspaper, all over the radio.
And now, just to put the icing on the cake, it’s all over her comeback album. A New Day Has Come is Mommy Celine’s multi-million-dollar love letter to her little boy. In case the four pages devoted to Celine’s baby pictures aren’t enough of a tipoff, there’s the songs themselves. Pretty much every one of these 16 tunes is about that special kind of love that changes a woman’s world and gives her life a new meaning. Open the lyric sheet at random and you can’t miss the fact that almost every couplet is a thinly disguised ode to motherhood: “I can’t believe I’ve been touched by an angel with love.” “I found my strength / All in the love of a boy.” “I know there is no love like a mother’s love for her child.” Yadda yadda yadda. It would almost be touching — if Celine had written a word of it. But she didn’t. Just as you suspect she doesn’t change a lot of diapers around the house, Dion has a slate of songwriters (including Canadians Aldo Nova and Corey Hart, along with the likes of Mutt Lange and Daryl Hall) do the heavy lifting for her.
A New Day Has Come is also a work by committee when it comes to music. Apparently attempting to appeal to every possible demographic, the album bounces around between styles with precise calculation. I’m Alive and Right in Front of You are lightly funky synth-pop; Rain, Tax (It’s Inevitable) is skittery hip-hop nicked from Destiny’s Child; Ten Days is a moody, rootsy pop-rocker reminiscent of Amanda Marshall; Sorry for Love is a sweeping house cut; Aun Existe Amor and When the Wrong One Loves You Right are Latin-pop. And, of course, there are her trademark lung-busting, chest-pounding power ballads with titles like Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word) and I Surrender. (There are also covers of the Etta James soul hit At Last and the Nat King Cole classic Nature Boy, about which the less said the better.) Naturally, it’s all immaculately recorded, smoothly performed and tastefully produced. Which is a nicer way of saying it’s all as bland and easily digestible as pablum.
Which is, sadly, the very reason why this disc will likely be yet another smash hit for Celine. Safe, nice and predictable is what folks seem to want from her. And it’s what she does best. So get ready. You’ll be spending the next few months listening to her sing about her kid every time you turn on the radio, and watching her talk about him every time you turn on the TV, and reading about him every time you open the magazine. Of course, there is one way to get out of it. Just remember to pass me the hammer when you’re done.