What was predictable, and warranted, was the fact that Dion’s next album, “Courage,” would be dedicated to mourning and un-mooring, to loss, to the universal feelings all of us have when we lose someone/anyone dear. That’s Dion’s role in the music world: take an intimate moment, be it a lover’s kiss or a child’s cry, shout it out loud, and do it with enough drama and treacle that Andrew Lloyd Webber would get a nosebleed at the very thought. Dion’s best moments, be it “All by Myself” or “My Heart Will Go On,” are nothing if not a combination of moody mawkishness, grandstanding theater and syrupy bombast.
With Dion’s comfort zone well established, the best thing that she and her production team (or, rather, teams, as word has it the vocalist had nearly 50 tracks from which to choose, not counting songs penned for her since 2016 from Diane Warren and Pink) could do was freshen her sound. That’s understandable. The currency of ’90s nostalgia is part of Dion’s resurgence, even if anything too retro would fall flat or seem desperate.
The most glorious, and authentic, moments on “Courage,” then, address bereavement, fear and finality in that pearl-clutching, gasping-for-air singing style that is Dion’s, and Dion’s alone. Co-written by Sam Smith and produced by Stargate, “For the Lover That I Lost” grabs loss by the collar, draws it close and shouts it down, gorgeously.