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Reviews 03/04/2004

Album Of The Week: Janet Jackson

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by Mikey (Gillingham, Kent. UK) - Each week I preview an album which I think deserves a listen to and if it's worth to buy, I will cater for all tastes of music from R'n'B to Rock, Hip hop and Pop.

Janet Jackson - Damita Jo
Release Date: 29 March 2004

Back in the years before the all-revealing 'Nipplegate' saga, and the ongoing problems with Michael there's a fair bit of pressure on the Jackson camp. But it seems this family thrives in adversity, and Damita Jo gives no hint that intrusion has adversely affected Janet Jackson.
Janet Jackson albums followed a predictable formula. A prologue, various musical interludes, occasional spoken pseudo-funny studio out-takes, and a couple of dozen warm, soul tracks with more than a dash of dancey funk. Guess what, this one is likewise. Whether you find that consistency of recipe reassuring or disappointing, depends on how much of a Janet Jackson fan you are.

This, her 8th studio album 21 years, is largely mid-tempo R&B out of a 90's mold. But with so many new pretenders of that genre kicking at her black-clad heels, Janet will be hard pressed to win over a new audience already turned on by the Justin's and Christina's of this world. The continued input of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis enhances her position of sticking with the familiar, and of course their production is naturally tip-top. But even though knob-twiddling duties are also shared with those who have put the spring in Beyonce and the soul in Alicia Keys, the prevailing sound is still unashamedly Miss Jackson.

The intro doesn't really have any impact, nor does Damita Jo's title track; they more sweep over without leaving or requesting further investigation. Sexhibition begins the fun with its delightfully fast beat mirrored in the suggestive lyrics.

Strawberry Bounce features a cameo sample from Jay Z but it's the whispered expletives that really draw attention to the song. Kanye West - who clearly had a big influence on the creation of Damita Jo - probably brokered this deal. The man of the moment features heavily on the production side and has a vocal input on My Baby.

My Baby sparks off a backroom chill and/or lullaby sort of vibe, which isn't really my bag but it's a welcome break from the pounding beats I subject myself to pretty much on an hourly basis. The opening words to All Nite (Don't Stop) "this is sick" ups the ante a bit, with a funky bass guitar underpinning the track; the change makes the transition to R&B Junkie that bit smoother. The pure disco beats take the listener straight back to the old skool.

Like You Don't Love Me is a bit more slushy, as is Thinkin' Bout My Ex, but the album's opener Looking For Love gives a warning that this avenue would be at least explored during the proceedings. It's also a sign that Miss Jackson is keeping up with the competition... slosh is selling at the moment. Moist is a bit more vulgar but it's veiled with soft pianos and an angelic voice.

SloLove ironically is not slow at all but then it's not fast either. Confusingly I don't even think you could call it mid-tempo, but what is clear is that this is an unadulterated piece of radio-friendly pop. Unusually the first single from Damita Jo, Just a Little While, ends the album and without wanting to review the single it seems a little bit out of place. Not that the song isn't good, it just doesn't fit with previous tracks. Nonetheless it isn't a bad way to close an album.

Janet Jackson still continues to woo the fans, and her recent career achievement honour at the Soul Train Music Awards shows that she's still a name to be reckoned with - even without pre-planned 'wardrobe malfunctions'. If you want a Janet Jackson album like any of the last 3 or 4, then 'Damita Jo' will be right up your street. For the rest of us who don't endorse laurel resting, it remains ordinary, albeit moist. As you will doubtless be informed many times over in the coming weeks, 'Damita' is Janet's middle name. So, it seems, is 'uninspiring'.

Damita Jo doesn't boast many stand out tracks, and it isn't an album that can be listened to. On the whole it's a very passive collection of songs. Good thing or bad? I'm undecided but my mum described it as "lovely" while cleaning - which just about sums up Damita Jo. It all, if you are a Janet Jackson its worth it to add to your ever increasing record collection, ever since The Velvet Rope, she has struggled to maintain a high increase in her music ability but it still a well worth album to buy.
8/10

Tracklisting
1. Looking For Love
2. Damita Jo
3. Sexhibition
4. Strawberry Bounce
5. My Baby
6. The Islands
7. Spending Time With You
8. Magic Hour
9. Island Life
10. All Nite (Don't Stop)
11. R&B Junkie
12. I Want You
13. Like You Dont' Love Me
14. Thinkin' Bout My Ex
15. Warmth
16. Moist
17. It All Comes Down To Love
18. Truly
19. The One
20. SloLove
21. Country
22. Just A Little While






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