Ever since Jessie J burst into the music scene with Price Tag in 2011, she has been steadily churning out catchy, danceable hits like Domino, Bang Bang and Masterpiece.
The British singer’s fourth release, R.O.S.E., sees her going in a completely different direction.
The 16-track album, which was released in four parts last week, favours slow-tempo, jazzy, soulful sounds – a far cry from the head-bobbing pop tunes we’re used to hearing from her.
The searing ballad, Think About That, hints at the possible reason for this drastic shift in her musical identity. The song details a close associate who used her and betrayed her over the years she spent building her career.
Now finally free from the mysterious figure she calls “a shark, a cheat, a traitor”, perhaps Jessie has realised her true potential and is finally coming into her own with the new sound.
Jessie gathers all the pain and disappointment she has harboured all this while and channels them into the scornful, explosive track to great effect.
Elsewhere, the singer sings about female empowerment, relationships and motherhood. Many of the tracks here don’t have strong, melodic hooks and take a few listens to get into save for Petty, Play and Glory.
The album’s lead single, Queen, is a powerful anthem calling all women out there to embrace their body. There’s a hardness to Jessie’s voice usually. On R.O.S.E., that steeliness is dialled down substantially. Make no mistake, this by no means suggest her voice lacks strength or power, it’s just a lot sweeter.
R.O.S.E. is decidedly less radio-friendly than her previous works, and it probably won’t produce as many hits.
Then again, while her earlier songs may have been more infectious, they have a manufactured quality to them. This one has more heart and soul.