Jessie J's "Who You Are" Is An Eclectic, Promising Debut
While the album lacks focus as a whole and features some heavy-handed over-production, the eclectic British artist’s innate musical prowess has generated a solid debut that is sure to be a summer favorite.
“Who You Are” brings together an impressive mix of genres including pop, R&B, soul, and rock in an amalgamation of socially conscious, thoughtful songs and feel-good tracks that maintain high energy from start to finish.
The album starts strong with “Price Tag,” an upbeat, beachy tune with reggae and pop elements. While no lyrical feat, the message of anti-consumerism is unique for a popular female artist to emphasize.
Jessie J’s outlook of self-empowerment is seen throughout the album. Even the token love song, aptly titled “L.O.V.E.,” is given a cheeky twist, beginning “Fuck it, I’mma write a song about love.”
“Who You Are” features tracks co-written by the artist (born Jessica Cornish) herself. Though the Brit’s songs lack any remarkable lyricism with clichéd lines such as “if you don’t reach for the moon you can’t fall on a star,” Cornish’s vocal flair makes every track sound like a musical feat.
Standout songs include “Mama Knows Best,” and “Abracadabra,” two soulful, high-impact tracks that highlight Cornish’s dizzyingly robust vocals.
Where the artist fails to deliver is on songs that feature Ke$ha-like rap/singing, a technique which Jessie J is far beyond. The impact of both “Rainbow” and “Stand-Up,” two other songs preaching self-empowerment, is overwhelmed by superfluous backing vocals and contrived, “motivational” exclamations like, “Don’t think second best!”
The acoustic version of “Who You Are” and a live rendition of “Big White Room” show Cornish’s greatest potential as an artist.
“Who You Are” speaks to larger issues of women and youth today, with lyrics like “Brushing my hair, do I look perfect/I forgot what to do to fit the mold,” while “Big White Room” is a stripped, acoustic track with a simplistic message and striking vocals.
Although “Who You Are” shows room for growth, it is a formidable debut from an artist with a bright future as an international performer.
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