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With two hit albums under her belt, Jessie J released her third album titled Sweet Talker this past Monday. Armed with a voice and songs that will undoubtedly get her compared to Christina Aguilera, Jessie J goes all in, calling on multiple well-known producers and featured artists to help her bring fans her most personal album yet. But did she succeed?
Jessie kicks in the door so to speak to begin Sweet Talker with ‘Ain’t Been Done’. An aggressive opener meant to catch listeners’ attention, the singer sets the tone for what listeners can expect from her with lyrics stating, ‘I’mma do it like it ain’t been done/On top and I’ve just begun/Best believe I’ll be your number one/I’mma do it like it ain’t been done.’ The hard hitting drum and sax pairing, contrasted with the guitar accompanied melody shows both a fiery determination with a self-assured confidence.
The upbeat vibe continues throughout the first half of the album. ‘Burning Up’ featuring 2 Chainz was definitely written to be a club banger. The song starts with a slow opening followed by a fast club beat accompanied by hand clapping. This continues to alternate throughout the song, which makes it slightly difficult to achieve its purpose of being a dance floor hit. 2 Chainz comes in after the second verse. While he did a good job keeping pace with the beat, which is far from his usual cadence, one can’t help but feel like he is just out of place on this song.
Things slow to a slower, but still danceable, pace for ‘Sweet Talker’. A song about seduction, Jessie J paints the picture of a man who can talk her into doing almost anything. The Diplo produced beat perfectly complements Jessie’s seductive voice and the song’s subject matter.
Next comes ‘Bang Bang’ featuring Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj where J and Grande take turns singing about how the women their interests are with cannot compare with them. After this comes Fire, which will definitely be an upcoming single, and ‘Personal’ where Jessie makes you feel her pain with her rich voice and introspective lyrics. ‘Masterpiece’ is the second inspirational song where she sings about how she is still working on her ‘masterpiece’ even though she knows she is imperfect. While the song is relatable, it is not anything unique that hasn’t been done many times before.
Rounding out the first half of the album is ‘Seal Me with a Kiss’ featuring De La Soul. The song, which samples Parliament Funkadelic’s ‘Not Just (Knee Deep)’, finds the singer wishing her interest would make his or her move and seal the deal with a kiss. The song is out of place considering the rest of the album, and it shows. The song sounds like it would have honestly been a better fit for earlier collaborator Ariana Grande’s debut album, Yours Truly.
The second half of the album has one up tempo song, followed by a string of ballads. The ballads are well done, but after the third or fourth one, you’re going to wish these ballads were dispersed a little better. Even worse, listeners will soon pick up on a pattern about how Jessie tends to start many of the songs on the album, which will quickly become redundant. Still, there are some standouts. ‘Keep Us Together’ is an honest and vulnerable song where Jessie wonders what will happen to her relationship when the ‘honeymoon’ is over. The longing in her voice comes through as she looks to her partner to let her know that they have what it takes to stay together when the going gets tough.
Another standout from the second half of the album is ‘Get Away’, a stripped down ballad about a relationship that became toxic, where Jessie seizes the opportunity to showcase her full vocal range for listeners. This is yet another song on the album where Jessie’s voice will make it hard for you to listen to the full song and feel nothing.
Overall, the album is another solid effort from the singer. Jessie’s full and rich voice will keep fans of music satisfied throughout the album. There are many opportunities for the singer to show fans and critics alike why her vocal talent is well respected. The songwriting is relatable, which also serves to help the singer connect to listeners. The downside of the album is that Jessie is still playing it safe. Reviews of her past album have stated the singer does not give listeners a real picture of who she is. While Jessie J has softened up and shown some vulnerability with songs like ‘Keep Us Together’, ‘Loud’, and ‘Said Too Much’, it can be said that her songs are still largely about generic subject matter. Only on songs such as ‘Get Away’ and ‘You Don’t Really Know Me’ do fans get a chance to ‘peek behind the curtain’. I was once told that there is only so much talking that can be done if you’re not willing to open up and get personal, and while she can get away with detached and universal subject matter for now, that fork in the road will undoubtedly await Jessie. In the meantime, Sweet Talker still has many enjoyable tracks that listeners can play over and over again.
On Repeat: ‘Sweet Talker’, ‘Fire’, ‘Personal’, ‘Keep Us Together’ and ‘Get Away’