Fulfilling the title, Monica proves she's still standing fifteen years after "Miss Thang" on this album, her sixth studio effort. More than anything however, the "Everything To Me" singer seems to have honed in on her strengths and left the tricks to youngsters unlike the 2006 effort "The Makings Of Me".
Filled with songs about getting to love, appreciating a significant other, being at a crossroads in a relationship and even getting out of a bad one, Monica leaves no stone unturned when it comes to relationships on "Still Standing".
Kicked off with the title track "Still Standing," Monica taps Ludacris for the album's lone collaboration, leaving listeners with an empowering and truthful account of her past, singing "see this is more than just a song to me `cause I been up against the ropes, everything you're going through I been there before". While the record was first heard early 2009, it is still one of the album's stand out songs, catching Monica near her best as a strong songstress telling an empowering story. That theme, which fits Monica well, can be heard on another standout track titled "Believing In Me".
The final track on the album, "Believing In Me" features Monica finding the strength to leave a one way relationship, meaning the man she fell in love with does not love her the same way. Produced by Stargate, "Believing In Me" is both relatable yet fitting for Monica who sings "didn't know that I was selling my soul to someone who didn't care at all," before delivering the words "I've moved on and I'm strong. I'm going back to the place where I know I belong.. cause I'm right and you're wrong, this time I'm believing in me.... I'm never letting go of my dreams."
While Monica spends time taking a stance on songs like "Still Standing" and "Believing In Me," the majority of the album is spent adoring the love of her life. Before we get there however, she takes a detour with Ne-Yo and Polow Da Don on "Here I Am" and "Stay or Go". Unfortunately, both songs seem to go nowhere. The latter of the two especially, "Stay or Go" is surprisingly the least attractive song on the album, which is even more surprising with Ne-Yo credited. On the song, Monica sings "You either wanna be with me or you don't. Let me know what you're going to do cause I'm not waiting". "Here I Am," as seen on the reality series "Monica: Still Standing" is credited to Polow Da Don. While the song, like "Stay or Go," starts out well and is more `contemporary' than others, it fails as the seconds roll on with lyrics like "Why don't you come and pick me up and take me to the crib and do the things that I have told you he won't," followed by "boy stop tripping cause it's just me and you". Neither are horrible songs however, just not the best. These songs, along with the Missy Elliott produced 80s like track "If You Were My Man (Betcha)," are simply okay, not thrilling or songs you would run and share with a friend.
The remainder of "Still Standing" is Monica at her best. Perhaps because of an admiration for the father of her children during the album's recording, Monica comes off soulful, truthful and at peace on "Everything To Me," "One In A Lifetime," "Mirror," "Superman" and "Love All Over Me". All timeless, these songs are perhaps what listeners expect from Monica at this point in time. Not trying to gravitate towards today's pop-friendly R&B records or earn a cosign from Hip Hopper's with another "Everytime The Beat Drop," Monica delivers here.
"Everything To Me," the album's official first single, leads the pack as a classic and timeless ballad about a love that is second to none ("you're everything to me, the air that I breathe.."). Monica then takes it up a notch on "One In A Lifetime," produced by Los Da Mystro. A record that could easily be another single, "One In A Lifetime" is comparable to "Mirror," another stand out track and potential hit single.
Produced by Jim Jonsin, "Mirror" is lyrically and not just vocally sound with Monica singing "I used to have my share of lonely days beneath the makeup and the darkest shades. But ever since you came I know the meaning of true love again. It's not the bags or the trips or the clothes. It's not the fans or the sold-out shows. It's the way that you see through my soul." Laying it down, Monica goes on to sing "When I look in the mirror I don't recognize the girl all about the glitter, cause now I see you by my side. Now nothing's ever going to be the same, forget the fortune you can keep the fame."
Picking up where she left off on "Everything To Me," Monica admires her man, comparing being with him to a movie, in this case "Superman," singing "waking up with you is just like waking up next to superman." Produced by Bryan Michael Cox, "Superman" is laid back in comparison to the last two songs, but nonetheless seamless.
Last but not least, the Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox produced "Love All Over Me" rounds out "Still Standing" as another laid back, yet soulful track filled with admiration.
As she sings on "Love All Over Me," "you showered me with a new beginning, now I'm clean"... "Still Standing" is a new beginning for Monica. A solid effort filled with mature songs about getting to love, appreciating a significant other, being at a crossroads in a relationship and even getting out of a bad one, "Still Standing" should keep Monica up for some time.
If you must download instead of picking up the whole album, "Mirror," "Everything To Me," Superman," and "One In a Lifetime" are the top picks, with "Love All Over Me," "Still Standing" and "Believing In Me" as bonus tracks you might want to grab legally.