Just Whitney...

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December 09, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

Whitney Houston’s latest Just Whitney… has a refreshingly old-school vibe. Whatever her personal problems, our gal sounds plucky and on top of her game, confronting her critics on the lively ”Whatchulookinat” (”The same spotlight that brought me fame/Tryin’ to dirty up Whitney’s name”), and proclaiming she’s ”unashamed of the life I lead” (on ”Unashamed”). ”My Love,” a duet with Bobby Brown, is a giant raspberry to all those critical of Houston and Brown’s marriage. ”Things You Say” (cowritten and produced by Missy Elliott) is a slow jam that sounds like a long-lost R&B classic. Of course, amid the wheat, there’s some chaff, like the cover of the Debby Boone chestnut ”You Light Up My Life” and the treacly keyboards-and-strings big ballad ”On My Own.” Still, in her third decade as a diva, Houston remains a formidable role model for ”American Idol” wannabes, proving that a great voice goes a long way toward kicking adversity in the butt.

Just Whitney...

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Just Whitney...

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