Picks and Pans Review: Butterfly

updated 10/20/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/20/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey has always caught flak for relying too much on grandstanding at the expense of genuine emotion. Well, she must be reading her reviews, because on her sixth CD, Carey cranks down her vocal bungee jumping in favor of singing that sounds like it comes from the heart. On the elegant "Close My Eyes," for example, she dips into her underused lower register to pull out a dramatically nuanced performance. Still, Butterfly mostly uses the tried-and-true Mariah formula. There are slick up-tempo collaborations with R&B artists (notably "Babydoll," cowritten by the ultra-hot Missy Elliot) and a flurry of breathy love songs with teenage-diary lyrics by Mariah. Someday, with the right producer and some serious songs, Mariah Carey will make an album as great as her potential. Till then, Butterfly is her best work in years. (Columbia)

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