Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet isn’t as charming as Jennifer Lopez’s new album, even though Carey is technically a better singer than Lopez, and she’s in fine voice here. The production, by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jermaine Dupri, and others, is tasteful — in places, oppressively so. Carey’s predilection for windswept ballads grows tiresome quickly. ”Through the Rain,” embellished with her trademark vocal pyrotechnics, is one of those highly personal songs about finding your way out of an emotional wilderness, but it sinks in its own sodden sentimentality, as do by-the-numbers efforts like ”Yours” and ”I Only Wanted.” Thankfully, there are a few genuinely affecting moments. ”Clown” is a moody number graced with mournful acoustic guitar and a gorgeously nuanced vocal, while ”Sunflowers for Alfred Roy” is a short, sweet song sung to a lovely piano accompaniment. Carey’s love affair with rap also rears its head on ”You Got Me,” which features Jay-Z, and the herky-jerky ”Boy (I Need You),” on which Cam’ron guests, adding some welcome energy. Still, too much of ”Charmbracelet” is mired in middle-of-the-road muck.
We gave it a C