by Carla Bynum
In recent months, the focus has been more on her personal life and her pending divorce from husband of 13 years, Kendu Issacs. Fans were shocked when the news broke but also relieved because as crazy as it sounds, Mary is at her best when she’s “heartbroken.”
On April 28th, Mary released her thirteenth studio album Strength of a Woman via Capital Records. The song features appearances from Kanye West, DJ Khaled, Quavo, Missy Elliott, Kaytranada, and Prince Charlez. The album was supported by the lead single “Thick of It,” which was released on October 7th. The album’s second single “U + Me (Love Lesson” was released on February 17th while the third single, “Love Yourself” featuring Kanye West, was released on March 30th.
“Thick of It” was released as the album’s lead single on October 7th. Mary sings about her relationship with Kendu Isaacs and the end of their relationship. She knows that love isn’t simple and she’s not a quitter but she’s wondering if she should stick it out. While she doesn’t want all the years she put into her marriage to go to waste, she knows she deserves better than this. “If I can make it through hell and make it out alive, I have nothing to fear,” Mary sings on the track. The song spent 16 weeks at number one on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart.
Mary doesn’t hold back on the track “Set Me Free,” where she gets raw and real about what caused the demise of her marriage. She starts the song questioning her ex-husband on how he could fix his mouth to say that she wouldn’t have anything without him and that he owes her, especially when he was taking trips with another woman for so long. Although she wishes she could get back her time, she knows that she will be alright. She’s finally free to be herself and she knows there’s a special place in hell for her ex-husband.
On the track “It’s Me,” Mary can feel that something in her relationship has changed. She wishes she could read his mind to see what he is thinking. She has a feeling that something is and she hopes she’s wrong. She’s been the same person throughout their relationship and she wonders why he it’s a problem now.
Following her divorce, Mary chose to “Glow Up” instead of moping. She knows she is a good woman and it’s her ex-husband’s loss. She’s going to move on, have some fun and throw it in his face because he has it coming. He can take his nonsense somewhere else. The song features Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled, and Quavo. Missy summed up the song perfectly with the line, “chicks like me don’t stay down.”
The single “U + Me (Love Lesson)” was released on February 17th. Mary feels like she was crazy to think he ever loved her. She saw all the signs but ignored them. Through it all, she will stay on her feet and take their marriage as a lesson learned.
Mary offers advice in love on the track “Indestructible.” While it’s easy to feel down in a breakup, it’s important to remember that you are strong and unbreakable.
Mary is feeling thankful on the track “Thank You.” She is thankful that her ex-husband showed her who he really is. She never expected him to treat her the way he did. She was feeling lost but now she is found. Jazmine Sullivan is one of the cowriters on the song.
Mary is happy that she can use her platform to help somebody get through the same thing she had to go through. She’s a “Survivor” and she is shining bright and nobody can stop her or dim her light.
Despite what she’s been through, Mary is a strong believer in love. She believes that we as a people should find the love on the upbeat “Find the Love.”
It’s difficult to want to love again when you’ve been hurt so many times but Mary is hopeful. She’s been broken for too long and now she’s standing in the sunshine and has found somebody who can make her “Smile” again. The song features Prince Charlez.
Mary refuses to shed anymore tears on the track “Telling the Truth” featuring KAYTRANADA. After all she’s done for her ex, she wonders how he could still try to play her like a fool.
On the title track “Strength of a Woman,” Mary sings about the pain women endure on a regular basis. She questions how the world would survive without women.
The album closes with the track “Hello Father,” a song where Mary asks God for guidance through her troubling times. She is blessed and highly favored and she knows that because of all God’s love. The song ends perfectly with the words “Jesus is the reason.”
There’s a reason Mary J. Blige has had longevity in the music industry. She knows how to flawlessly turn her emotions into great music and that is still true after thirteen albums. It is unfortunate that she had to endure so much pain in her personal life but it made for a great and heartfelt album.
Recommended Tracks: “Thank You,” “Smile,” “Survivor,” “Hello Father”