Jessie J | Who You Are (Lava Music/Republic Records)

I initially underestimated her talent based on her punkish appearance, but Jessie J has completely surprised me with her vocals, production, and song composition.

 

 

Seeing Jessie J on BET’s 106 & Park this past Tuesday, I was intrigued. It’s refreshing to hear her rant and rave about happiness and self-satisfaction as opposed to heartache, love, and pain in relationships. With her debut, Who You Are, she takes pride in focusing on the most important relationship you have in life—the one with yourself.

Singles from this album include “Do It Like a Dude,” “Price Tag,” featuring B.O.B and “Nobody’s Perfect.” The message in the first, “Do It Like a Dude,” is pretty obvious; Jessie J explores the double standard for males and females. In “Price Tag,” she speaks about living in a not-so-materialistic world as she proclaims, “We don’t need your money, money, money / We just want to make the world dance, forget about the price tag.” Next, a string orchestra backs her up as she lays out the many imperfections she struggles with in “Nobody’s Perfect.”

The upbeat, hip-swaying tune “Abracadabra” is a confession of desire and unexpected love, and this song in particular really showcases Jessie J’s unique vocals. She’s incomparable to any other British artist out today. Her voice also shines on a live track entitled “Big White Room,” which finds her reliving the pain of the death of a little boy she once knew. The guitar accompanies her echoing, soaring vocals as she sings, “I feel young, broken, so, so scared, Oooh / I don’t want to be here anymore / I want to be somewhere else normal and free, like I used to be / But I have to stay in this big white room with little old me.”

She’s willing to be a “Casualty of Love” for her partner when times get tough because “all is fair in love and war.” Love could knock her down, and her resilient nature would still want more because that’s the price she’s willing to pay. “L.O.V.E” is her ode to never writing a love song, but to living and experiencing that bond instead.

An advocate of self-love and girl power, Jessie J’s “Rainbow” and “Stand Up” effortlessly promote happiness in all things, to the utmost extent. She definitely brings a jazzy, sassy swagger to the scene that sets her apart from the bluesy, soulful sound of her fellow Brits Adele, Duffy, and Amy Winehouse. She tries on the soulful British singer persona on “Mamma Knows Best,” but other than that she’s crossing all boundaries. Jessie J is hip-hop, pop, and a hint of rock—she molds her own category instead of fitting into the framework of other artists today.

The album’s title track is Jessie J’s moment of reflection on her reality as she transitions through life. She tells herself to not lose sight of her identity as she catapults into success. “Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars,” she belts out. “Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing, it’s okay not to be okay / Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart, but tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising, just be true to who you are.”

I initially underestimated her talent based on her punkish appearance, but Jessie J has completely surprised me with her vocals, production, and song composition. If this is only her debut on the scene, it looks like she will be setting the bar pretty high for other artists, especially female artists, to measure up. Who You Are introduces Jessie J’s talent wrapped up in sass, with a bit of edge; she’s the whole package deal promoting happiness and womanhood. B+ | Ashley White

 

 

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