Loved Me Back to Life is Celine Dion's first English-language album in seven years, but even that long gap of time doesn't tell the whole story. The last time Dion placed in the Billboard Top 40 was in 2002, when "A New Day Has Come" reached 22, and the last time she saw the Top 10 was in 1999, when "That's the Way It Is" reached number six. That's a roundabout way of saying that Dion's days as a formidable hitmaker are long gone, but the interesting thing about Loved Me Back to Life is how the French-Canadian diva has seized this opportunity to try a little bit everything, ranging from duets with neo-R&B stalwart Ne-Yo to covers of Janis Ian's "At Seventeen." Some of this piecemeal feel is due to the album's convoluted creation, growing from a simple studio re-creation of her on-going Vegas revue Celine, but then expanding to something a little more modern and something with a subtle but palpable R&B undercurrent. This soulful streak surfaces on the duets -- the aforementioned Ne-Yo collaboration "Incredible," plus Stevie Wonder sings his "Overjoyed" on a Tricky Stewart production -- but also in the stuttering rhythms of "Somebody Loves Somebody," the slow-burning "Didn't Know Love," and the lively, new jack swing of "Save Your Soul" (strangely, the two Babyface productions -- "At Seventeen" and "Always Be Your Girl" -- are thoroughly colorless adult contemporary). Still, that suggests Loved Me Back to Life is a livelier, riskier album than it actually is; despite these deeper grooves and sparkling surfaces, there's no question this is a Celine Dion album, a record that flirts with new ideas but never hooks up. Yet, that flirtation counts for something: it means the album is livelier, less self-conscious, less beholden to the expected, and quick-footed enough to not seem mired in show biz glitz. That doesn't mean Loved Me Back to Life will reverse her Billboard chart trajectory -- there's nothing here that screams big hit –- but it's something better: the work of a diva who is comfortable in her own skin.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine