Hailed in a few quarters as the return of the saviour, Recovery certainly has a lot to live up to before even settling into our stereo. It is, in fairness, a different Eminem sliding from the speakers, a man offering up a different focus and a drive suited to theme of his album title. For a man who’s previous content has been so self-assured we’ve been treated to lyrics like the highly childish “You can suck my dick if you don’t like my shit”, it really was high time an undeniably solid songwriter grew up just a touch. In many ways,Recovery is that moment.
While diehard fans might argue that Eminem’s more privileged position these days has whipped away his “hardship” style, Recovery still pulls no punches, laying into the likes of Mariah Carey (again, affair or not, it certainly had an impact on Mr. Mathers) and R. Kelly, as well as using the ever-controversial Mike Tyson as a clever euphemism for losing your mind. These days, though, there’s a hint of self-evaluation appearing for the first time. It’s strangely charming to experience Eminem “heart out”, and in tracks like -Going Through Changes’ (which samples the obvious Black Sabbath track) we’re seeing more feeling and less aggression, something we simply don’t expect from the angsty rapper.
While the lyrical content might be a touch more contemplative, the music is as distinctive as ever: you could never mistake Eminem’s vocals for anyone else’s. There’s the usual selection of special guests to be had, too, of course, such as the indomitable Lil Wayne, and some slightly surprising mainstream choices in P!nk and a soaring Rihanna.
In the most part, then, Marshall Mathers appear to have grown with his audience, a fact that will most likely be greeted with love and disdain in equally measure. Single -Not Afraid’ is not as instantly memorable as the likes of -Sing For The Moment’ or -Stan’, but it’s along the same lines, while the rest of the album offers up fairly staple fare; though – lyrics aside – it’s far from a stand out amongst his seven studio efforts so far. If you prefer the less considered Eminem, of course, there’s always a glimpse. In this album, it comes in -Seduction’: ‘she’s love stricken, she’s got her jaw stuck, form suckin my dick, aww fuck’¦’. A change then, but hardly a revolution’¦