Review: Eminem – Recovery

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Artist: Eminem
Album: Recovery
Genre: Hip Hop
Label: Polydor Records / Interscope

The music an artist creates is a direct product of the surroundings and state of mind that consumes their lives. This is never more evident than on Eminem’s newest album, Recovery. It appears his lengthy sabbatical from the limelight only served to fuel a fire as this unexpected follow-up to last year’s Relapse shows Marshall Mathers admitting to his drug-ridden weaknesses while deserting the exasperating slurs and accents that caused many to turn a deaf ear his music. I know there was a lot of trepidation as to whether he’d be able to have enough strength to rebound from such a low point in his career, but it is clear his adversities proved to only temporarily slow him down. And the result of overcoming your demons? Not only Eminem’s most important album for his career, but also, for himself.

Right from the start it’s clear that he’s hungry for a comeback as he barrages the listener on “Cold Wind Blows.” There’s no argument that Em’s been essentially absent-minded in recent years but herein lies the first time we’ve heard his powerful spits from a more mature perspective. While the majority of rappers concentrate on sex, drugs, and debauchery lifestyles, Eminem has always tackled real life struggles as he wears his heart and mind on his sleeve. His transparency is audaciously honest throughout the length of the album, starting early when he confronts his shortcomings on, “Talkin’ 2 Myself,” with the lines, “the last two albums didn’t count, Encore I was on drugs, Relapse I was flushing ‘em out.” It is one of the first, of many times that Eminem repeatedly apologizes for his past efforts while giving some insight into his depression and erratic behavior. It really showcases his level of unadulterated lyrical ability and the true nature of his character by his desire to do right by himself and his fans.

Before you think Eminem’s gone soft or turned straight narcissist, check out the utter fury he spits during “On Fire” or his team up with Pink on “Won’t Back Down.” These tracks unveil his newly rediscovered ability to spew venom, much like his first two records, as he diatribes against anyone who has ever wronged him. He executes machine-gun speed with ease, making intricate rhyming look like child’s play.

While the first part of the album has some strong points, the remainder is where the gems really lie. Incorporating Black Sabbath samples actually work on “Going Through Changes,” which brings Em back as he recalls his lapse into darkness. His unabashed vulnerability makes you feel as if you’re watching him fall apart right in front of you. This is also his first step to pulling through with an optimistic mind, but “Not Afraid,” is where his newly profound confidence shines. This inspirational lead track is a dynamic shift from his past work as he empowers not only himself but also the world who may be battling similar demons. After Lil Wayne makes a noteworthy presence on “No Love,” “Space Bound” brings a completely different route from his other material. The acoustics that ascend to a subtle, eerie beat paired with his exposed defenselessness make it a captivating high moment.

As the album unfolds we come to the two final highlight tracks, “25 to Life, and destined to be single, “Love The Way You Lie.” Eminem concentrates on a subject that he rarely touches on, love, but, on “25 to Life,” he uses a metaphor of his past with Kim to tease listeners before transforming the track into a metaphor about a cruel relationship with hip hop.  “Love The Way You Lie,” the breathtaking collaboration with Rihanna, hits close to home as she plays the torn victim while Em takes on the persona of a heartbroken, abusive lover. The synth and guitar-laden passages are gorgeous while the lyrics will simply take your heart and smash it on the floor.

Eminem has always struggled with brevity and this album clocks in at nearly 76 minutes, but if you can sit through the entire thing  and listen as he evaluates the thoughts of his incredibly unbalanced mind, Recovery will reward tenfold. Throughout the album he weaves dazzling internal patterns and clever word play as he seeks for salvation in result of his new found sobriety. No more skits or horrible accents to hide behind, this is the straight-up, foul mouthed, boundary pushing Eminem we’ve all grown to love reminding us why we all cared in the first place.

Score: 8.5/10
Review written by: Nerissa Judd

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Doug E Fresh

    Solid review. Nice work.

  • Brandon

    Best review of Recovery yet. good job.

  • Adam W

    Great review Nerissa, you never cease to amaze me and I completely agree with your thoughts on this album.

  • Heather Skinner

    I’ve read through a bunch of Recovery reviews but none that go in depth and as captivating as this one is. good job!

  • Sean Ponter

    Most critics have been bashing this album. Good to know there are still people out in the world that know talent when they hear it. Kudos to you.

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