Review: “Taking Chances” by Celine Dion (CD, 2007)

Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain is the 2007 tenth album Taking Chances by Canadian singer and former Eurovision Song Contest winner, Celine Dion. Will this Chance be a fine thing, or should you pass it up? Read on…

Celine Dion - Taking Chances (2007) album cover
Celine Dion – Taking Chances (2007) album

This 16 track (!) CD opens with a gentle synth pad and delicate acoustic guitar of lead and titular track Taking Chances. Celine gets a simple acoustic introduction at the start, as the song begins to build with piano, strings, beats, and electric guitars. The song seems to take full-form about 1m 29s, with the instruments gently rising the song beneath her flawless vocals. It briefly reminds me of something you might hear from Natalie Imbruglia, but the masterfully wielded voice is undeniably Celine’s as she builds up towards the end. We’re off to a great start with this mid-tempo pop rock song. Despite this, and that it has David A Stewart of Eurythmics behind the pen, when it was released as the lead single, it stalled at #40 in the UK chart.

Next is single Alone, a cover of the hit from rock group Heart, and instantly recognisable. A delicate tinkling keyboard gives a playful chiming sound, joined by some cello. It is a wonderfully warm and orchestral cover, filled with strings, rumbling dramatic timpani. Celine gets to show off her vocals in the chorus. Despite this, and its familiarity with audiences, it flopped at #85 in the UK singles chart when released as the final single.

We’re treated to a more exotic sound to Eyes On Me, the album’s second single. This track includes a co-writer credit for Delta Goodrum, and gives Celine a song that sounds almost like it would send alarm bells in the Shakira camp. Instead, we’ve got Celine’s soaring vocals, packed with power and playfulness, and occasionally a familiar chord sequence you’d hear in many James Bond themes (why has she not done one of those yet?). It did not chart in the UK.

The piano is wheeled in for My Love, and it starts off as a simple ballad between it and Celine’s voice. Of course, it shines vocally, and the production is slick, but it’s quite a plodder. Yes, Celine gets plenty of places to show off the power and range that she is very well known for, but the song meanders, and slightly unmemorable, which is odd for a song written by Linda Perry (Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, 4 Non Blondes).

That’s followed by Shadow Of Love, which pitches Celine against a simple pop beat, a swelling synth pad, and then the song bursts for the chorus and then it really goes for it. My foot was tapping as soon as the drummer slipped the leash. This is a belting great track and really should have made it through as a single, even if it was just in the UK, in order to combat the other single’s paltry performance.

Surprise Surprise is next, no, not the Cilla Black TV show theme (sadly), but instead we get a mid-tempo guitar laden song that’s somewhere pitched between Allison Moorer and Alanis Morissette. The backing vocalists get an easy ‘aah’ job, but they help to build up the platform from which Celine’s vocal leap at the 4 minute key change.

Next is This Time which opens with some really nice repeated acapella vocals from, before a the piano and sad strings lead us to Celine’s somewhat annoyed and defiant vocals. It’s a dramatic song, with the strings aiding this, and some nice key changes throughout. Over all, a really nice little song.

New Dawn is up next, and this signals the second half of the album. We’re into an initially low register Celine singing about Jesus, again from the pen of Linda Perry (who is also on guitars and piano – quite a skill). By the time of the chorus, we’ve got roaring Celine back, and she’s set against some wonderfully warm backing vocalists. The track is a slow song, and heavy with a gospel or bluesy feel. The vocal power is great, the religious undercurrent doesn’t appeal to me.

We’re on to A Song For You, which is awfully kind of her. The piano takes the lead again, and we’re treated to something that sounds like it came from a silent movie or a piece of classical music for piano. Celine and strings arrive, giving the song’s sad sound, aided by the sad piano, slow string section of the orchestra, and a miserable violin. The brass section awake at the 3 minute mark for a handful of notes that sends the song off.

Then it’s A World To Believe In, and this picks up the tempo a bit. It’s a nice break from the few slower songs we’ve just heard, and Celine gets to show off her vocals somewhat as the guitars and strings rise beneath her. This is a nice MOR song.

Can’t Fight The Feelin’ follows this and opens with some roaring electric guitars, piano and bass. This is a faster rock track, and Celine takes on a rock vocal, like she’s channeling Aerosmith or just evil Celine. The backing vocalists are also perfectly placed, giving her vocals contrast. There’s some hammy lyrics here including a quote attributed to John Lennon from All You Need Is Love by the Beatles, and mentions of Hooked On A Feeling…

Next is I Got Nothin’ Left, co-written by Ne-Yo, who noticeably has a backing vocals role that contrasts with Celine perfectly. The song is a nice plodding mid-tempo track, again heavy on the piano, but allowing Celine to shine vocally once again.

A guitar strum opens Right Next To The Right One, and initially sounds like a lullaby. The song slowly builds, and sounds really nice with Celine’s simpler rich vocals. The tempo and melody makes it a nice little almost fairground styled song. It works really well.

We’re into some dramatic synth strings for the opening of Fade Away, giving us an upbeat pop rock song with racing guitars and vocals. This would have also been a nice single, again a bit unlike the chart Celine we’re used to – more like a Girls Aloud song.

We’re back to a gentle mid-tempo track for That’s Just The Woman In Me, which Celine apparently sat on for about 15 years until she was ready to record it. The song’s writer, Kimberley Rew (formerly from Katrina and the Waves) must have the patience of a saint. The track allows Celine to really show off some croaky blues vocal style, and again leans on Allison Moorer or even Rod Stewart. The backing singers once again kick in at all the right places.

The album closes with Skies Of L.A. which brings us a gentle piano, plenty of echo, and a sense of floating with Celine’s haunting vocals over the top of a track that builds. Synths throw string and harp sounds. The piano continues to jitter throughout the track.

Celine’s lead single ‘Taking Chances’

Verdict

Over all, this album is a bit of a long mixed bag.

We all recognise Celine Dion for those epic big vocal hits of the mid-1990s, but here she has moved on a little. She’s unafraid to take on rockier sounds, and her vocal power can deliver these with power and ease. There’s also some more pop-ish songs here that work really well, with the non-single Shadow Of Love standing out a mile, with title track Taking Chances just behind.

There’s also some really nice sad and slow songs (This Time, A Song For You), and also some more unusual songs like Skies Of L.A. and Right Next To The Right One, which gives the listener something interesting to listen to. They work well, but these are scattered amongst some of the familiar ground for which we know Celine treads often.

Most of the album though, is middle of the road, mid tempo, unoffending but unmemorable songs. Expertly written, produced, and crafted, and performed with great skill, but they just don’t really do much. When you’ve sat through 16 songs where most of them are this kind, then it kind of dents the album somewhat.

Cutting the album to 13-14 songs would have made this album a bit easier to work through.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 2007 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #5, certified Platinum by the BPI.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.44 from an eBay seller.

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