'I Look to You' opens with one of the best things Whitney Houston has ever recorded. 'Million Dollar Bill' has a great club groove, an irresistible sample from Loleatta Holloway's 1976 classic 'We're Getting Stronger' and vocal production from Alicia Keys.
If only Houston had worked with her on more songs.
That's not to say that this is a bad album, it's just that Houston spends a lot of time in a comfort zone musically - not that surprising given what she's climbed out of.
As a fan-pleaser of ballads and polished pop, this is a fine comeback. The big disappointment is that Houston missed the chance to match the edge of some of the lyrics (personal struggles, inner strength) in the arrangements. The excellent shout-out 'Nothin' But Love' aside, the uptempo songs - 'A Song for You', 'Worth It' and 'For the Lovers' - sound more dated than old school and Houston has more to offer than they allow.
But as someone who's now twice the age of some of the same sound competition, 'I Look to You' also shows that Houston has nothing to fear from them. And the fact that she has plenty to think about for the next time is actually good news, because for a long time it looked liked there'd never be a next time.