Jessica Cornish – better know by her stage name Jessie J – released her third album Sweet Talker on the 10th October. Following a recent move to Los Angeles, the London-born singer-songwriter will be keen to appeal to both home and American audiences following mixed reviews and the disappointing chart performance of her previous album Alive.
Sadly, this album is not as different to its predecessor as may be hoped. ‘Fire’ features powerful lyrics that fundamentally do not fit with its keyed down tempo, and as a consequence Jessie J sounds almost as if she cannot be bothered to feel the passion the lyrics claim. ‘Get Away’ is the opposite, and despite beautiful instrumentals its fairly unremarkable lyrics fail to grab listeners’ attentions. These songs represent the takeaway message from the album – things just do not fit. Jessie J appears to be reaching for a new audience, and though an admirable attempt this album’s style is reminiscent of Leona Lewis’ Spirit without the polished execution – she is at risk of alienating listeners who recognise her for upbeat, energetic melody. Far removed from that which comes naturally and with vocal ability suppressed beneath layers of production, this is a fairly boring listen that does not do justice to the talent Jessie J is known to possess.
That said, the album does have stand out tracks. The lead single ‘Bang Bang’ is a joint effort, shared three-way with other industry leading ladies Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. Worldwide Number One and a UK chart non-mover with good reason, the contrasting sounds of each artist all share a defiant, girl power vibe and Jessie J’s cheeky, opening belt sets the tone for the fun and eclectic. ‘Burnin’ Up’ shares this energy but has more style and concentrated pacing, clearly showing its rap influence from collaboration with hip-hop artist 2 Chainz. It is notable perhaps that the most enjoyable of songs from the album are those shared with other artists, where Jessie J is detached from the mood the album attempts to create and her singing seems far more organic – her vocals remain as powerful as she has previously proven, but cannot overcome lacklustre writing or melody.
Jessie J has fallen short with Sweet Talker. With writing credits on under half the track list – a stark contrast to writing each of the 13 songs of her debut album, Who You Are – her strong vocals and previously evident musical originality is largely hidden under the influence of producers who have in this album turned this powerhouse into a simple, generic sound.
Sweet Talker is available now through Lava/Republic Records.