You know when you go on holiday and sit at a beachside bar, all chilled and happy, and listen to the feel-good RnB played over the radio? This is the sound of that music if it was good, the kind of album you’d bring home and play, and feel relaxed and happy by association.
JoJo thus far has passed us by: she was the youngest female solo artist to have a No1 in the US with 2004’s Leave (Get Out), starting her career when she was 13 via a talent show. Reading reviews, she’s always had a remarkable voice but struggled to find her sound – and had a couple of legal cases along the way – until this, her fourth album.
It’s quality music all the way through, admittedly with somewhat dubious lyrics. The tunes are slick, with nice, cottony production – it all feels a bit fluffy – and with lots of vocal harmony.
It’s chilled and beachside/Californian and she’s got a great voice. Her audience is basically the cast of Friends – young people, hanging out with various partners, having a good time and talking the talk scriptwriters would never write for primetime television; the explicit chat people have in private. One song is named Pedialyte, for the rehydration drink that presumably works with hangovers.
“Feed me love, sex and drugs” are the opening words of the album, “bring me more it ain’t enough” – admittedly this demand is all so she can “forget what I’m missing”, but it sets the tone. That first track, Bad Habits, is just an intro and morphs into So Bad, a fairly routine modern RnB tune on one level but improved by her voice and the general lushness of the sound. In this and other songs she sounds like soul legend Deniece Williams – like JoJo, Williams is a soprano with four-octave range. Small Things is another song where Williams springs to mind.
Standouts are Man (she needs one, and she describes to what use he will be put quite specifically) and a track towards the end, Don’t Talk Me Down, a more old fashioned slow soul tune with just JoJo’s vocals and piano, strings and Hammond organ.