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MARSHALL MATHERS TACKLES HIS MOST COMPLICATED SUBJECT... HIMSELF
Francis Jones, 29 Jul 2010
Having spent much of the previous six albums indulging in musical mud-slinging against his family and famous contemporaries alike, Recovery finds Eminem fixing his critical gaze on the man in the mirror. He seems chastened by self-reflection and, like all sinners, knows he has to admit his sins before he can be forgiven.
'Talkin' 2 Myself' and the Dear Diary style of 'Going Through Changes', in particular, showcase this contemplative mindset.
Often, it feels as if we're eavesdropping on a psychoanalysis session. 'Not Afraid', for example, sounds like an exercise in self-affirmation. When not looking inwards, he's striking out. Wife, verbal punch-bag and “selfish bitch” Kim is on the receiving end, yet again, in '25 To Life', whilst Michael J. Fox and David Carradine are amongst the innocent bystanders cut down by his rhymes. Still, despite his best efforts on tracks like 'Cold Wind Blows', his propensity to shock has been diminished by familiarity. The misogyny and homophobia demonstrated here seems calculated, not casual.
At least the music has a captivating swagger. 'So Bad' exhibits a mean funk strut and the beat of 'Almost Famous' is intriguingly odd, whilst our man's rapid-fire delivery is as assured, spite-flecked and dextrous as ever. A limp duet with Rihanna on 'Love The Way You Lie' apart, the famous collaborators provide good value too, Lil Wayne upping the bad boy factor on the Haddaway-sampling 'No Love' and P!nk doing her impassioned rock chick thing on 'Won't Back Down'.
Judging by Recovery, Eminem feels that he's attained some measure of personal redemption. However, in terms of a full professional revival, he still has issues.