Whitney Still Loves You

Following the success of listening parties in London, New York and Los Angeles earlier this month, the powers that be at Arista Records have decided to bump up the release date of Whitney Houston‘s new album.

The star-studded parties for Houston’s comeback, I Look To You, were stuffed to the gills with the singer’s family (mother Cissy, cousin Dionne Warwick and daughter Bobbi Kristina), as well as celebs including Monica, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, LA Reid, Martha Stewart, Diane Sawyer, Halle Berry, Jane Fonda, Penny Marshall, Diane Warren, Richard Perry, Magic Johnson, Barry Manilow, Brian McKnight and Stevie Wonder.

Clive Davis unveils the cover for I Look To You and introduces Whitney Houston in New York City.

In addition to causing spontaneous dancing among those in attendance, Houston’s new album received favorable reviews from all quarters, including BET’s Clay Cane, who reviewed the nine tracks unveiled during the event.

“‘Million Dollar Bill’ (written and produced by Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats) – An up-tempo, joyful track about love and probably one of the funkiest songs Whitney has ever done. “Million Dollar Bill” has an amazing bass line and almost recalls early Michael Jackson in Off The Wall. The catchy hook, ‘You make me feel like a million dollar bill.’ Her vocal is strong with some power notes toward the end. The song has an Alicia Keys sound but fits for Whit — it’s current without making her seem like she is trying to compete with teenagers. The song received a standing ovation.”

“‘Nothin’ But Love’ (produced by Danja) – Whitney’s shout out to those who her love her and those who hate on her, she’s got ‘Nothin’ But Love’ for all of them. Completely up-tempo and definitely an R&B club track that has the potential of sounding even hotter with a remix. The vocal stays around her lower register and, again, holds some classic Nippy notes at the end.”

“‘I Look To You’ – R. Kelly – Say what you want about R. Kelly but the man can still make a good R&B song. ‘I Look To You’ is the title track and my favorite song so far. Beautiful lyrics like, ‘As I lay me down, heaven hear me now.’ Her voice is deeply powerful, channeling classic Whitney with a pop sense but an R&B vocal. This song proves that she has not lost her voice and it’s definitely a melody I cannot wait to hear live. Whitney clearly feels every line and chord, charging through the ballad, transcending her own experience and reaching others who have been through adversity. Whitney has been criticized for not being emotional enough in her music — this track knocks out that complaint. From where I could see, Bobbi Kristina, Whitney’s daughter, was getting emotional during the song.”

Although there has been much speculation that the album was a long time coming because Houston was a wreck and needed straightening out first, industry vet Clive Davis told the Los Angeles Times the more than three year wait was necessary “because we kept wanting to set the bar high, in the tradition of the great vocalists, such as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Lena Horne.”

The singer reacts to applause during a listening party for her comeback album at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Originally scheduled for a September 1 release, I Look To You will now hit the streets on August 31. Fans looking to get their own preview of the album can download the title song from now until July 31 at Whitney Houston.com.

Listen to the new single “I Look To You” and download your free copy here.

Read Clay Cane’s coverage of the New York City listening party for I Look To You here.