Review of Sweet Talker by Jessie J
So its no secret that over the years we haven’t been the biggest supporters of Jessie J. From criticising her over treatment of the contestants she mentored on the voice to general dislike for her music and public persona. But give credit where its due, we have complimented a couple of times where its due. Sadly the arrogance of the girl sometimes leaves that sour taste that you can’t shake.
So we enter the task of reviewing Sweet Talker, Jessie J’s latest and third album with an open mind.
Jumping straight in with the title track Sweet Talker. Jessie immediately jumps in with the line “I can play this game with my eyes closed” – OK so this feels like arrogance right away. The line is actually referring to her prowess as a seductress (I will leave you to decide on that one), but I just can’t shake the feeling there is a heavily disguised harp back to previous boasts.
So Jessie J wouldn’t come last in a confidence race, lets get this out of my system. What is the album actually like? (I am trying)
Jessie J has in the past explored an RnB flavour to her music and also delved in to mainstream pop. Her head always seems to be in RnB though and trying to gain an urban flavour to her music. Sadly, whilst the lyrical content of Sweet Talker is akin to an RnB album, the sound isn’t.
Jessie J for all my previous criticism does carry her voice well on delivering the vocals on the album, with just a couple of minor hiccups along the way. The one criticism I would have is the fact that she genuinely belts out the lyrics on every song. Her powerful voice seems to have got extra volume and she is attempting to prove herself as a bit of a songstress. Almost to the lengths that she is trying to hard to prove herself (a bit like a contestant on awful TV talent show The Voice).
With this in mind, listening to the album in its entirety becomes a bit of a challenge. This sounds really negative and I suppose in a small way it is. However, hidden in there is also a compliment. She has delivered such loud and strong vocals you just can’t sit through that much in one sitting. Its a bit like going to a kids party when you are 7. The jelly and ice cream is lovely and you tuck in. But in your excitement you get a bit of an ice cream headache by having too much too soon. If you are really crazy you have too much jelly and the ride home becomes wholly unpleasant.
Well, this might just be a first, Jessie J being compared to jelly and ice cream and having the ability to induce ice cream headaches.
Back on track now. The album is good, but the vocals can be too much. This is especially prevalent in Get Away. The track feels like it could be a nice stripped back, acoustic piano track (I know it isn’t), but even on this she cannot resist the urge to show us all how good she is. A similar observation could be directed towards her on ballad Personal Update.
I mentioned my observation of Jessie J’s incredible confidence. This is actually displayed on the opening track with the line “I’m a do it like it aint been done”. You could argue she is just saying she is raising her game. However it is more likely to be a slight at her section in pop/RnB and could be taken as a dig at the likes of commercial rivals Katy Perry and Rihanna.
There are a couple of genuine highlights though with collaborations including an appearance from one my favourite hip hop acts of all-time De La Soul. Obviously the current hit Bang Bang which features Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande is a genuine banger. In all fairness, Bang Bang is much more than just an attention grabbing stunt that utilises the profile of two of the biggest names at the moment. It is a classic marriage between RnB and Hip Hop. Definitely the highlight of the album.
Overall, there are moments of magic, moments of good and and an undertone of its OK. Trust me, this is good for us on Jessie J. The album feels overly commercial with too much synth pop backing. It is obviously created to help break the US, which you can’t blame Jessie for. It is too much for one sitting though.
The tracks are obviously created for live performances as well, where Jessie can belt out those vocals to her hearts content. I hope she has good medical insurance, because if she does too many legs, that poor throat of her’s will need help.
Jessie J will have success on this album. Whether or not it is as big as her monster debut remains to be seen. But Jessie J, fair play, a decent album with some genuine highlights.