JoJo’s ‘Good to Know’: Album Overview

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The road on Joanna Levesque, then and now, has been almost the identical since she started making information at age 13. JoJo, the youngest feminine solo artist to have a No. 1 within the U.S. with 2004’s “Depart (Get Out),” made mature-for-her-age pop R&B. Positive, as a teen, she was extra pop than R&B — a advertising trick if something — and didn’t possess soul’s deep emotion, or its rhythmic density, on the early albums “JoJo” and “The Excessive Highway.” However JoJo conveyed a twee sense of street-sultriness (even when it was only a avenue in a cheery cul de sac). She had loopy soprano pipes advert a dynamic vary when her extra cosmopolitan songwriting materials demanded its use, and when she didn’t simply persist with the overuse of melisma and multi-tracked vocals on melodies that not often demanded her consideration.

After “The Excessive Highway,” JoJo’s synth-phonic and singing tips remained the identical, even when her beats bought rougher, her lyrics grew tougher and her tastes broadened on brooding mixtapes akin to “Agápē” and her third full-length, “Mad Love.” Protecting Drake’s “Marvin’s Room,” too, was a superb transfer, an apt examine in like-minded shushing vocal tics and ruminative, silken soul-hop. Nonetheless, tips are for youths, and he or she hadn’t but achieved the load of conviction or a way of self past being a third-rate Brandy. The previous JoJo sounded good, however extra like a child with scraped knees on the lookout for a Band-Assist reasonably than a lady searching for actual soul or a sound to name her personal.

“Good to Know” sounds as if that very same child has healed, grown up right into a 29-year-old girl with all of the self-knowledge and sensuality her age and expertise ought to painting. It’s the album the place all of her tics — of dashing too many breathy rap-sung syllables into one phrase, overly dreamy manufacturing and voluminous multi-tracked harmonies — have turn into agreeable signatures. JoJo sounds proper on time: She’s grown into herself.

In a bizarre manner, from its cultured chord modifications and hushed emotive vocals to its clicking rhythms and orchestrated synths, “Good to Know” comes throughout like an replace of Janet Jackson’s “Management” album, particularly its simmering, sluggish nearer “Humorous How Time Flies (When You’re Having Enjoyable).”

After the whispery sex-love-and-drugs intro of “Unhealthy Habits,” JoJo hones in on the listener with “So Unhealthy” and focuses our consideration with the command, “Look. Boy. Take a look at me now.” The silken, spacy observe has muted, aquatic keyboards, thud-knocking beats and a refrain of vocal FX through which she sings, in Gaga-like tones, a story of seduction with “trench coat behind the bar within the shadows” imagery. However JoJo is actually right here to reintroduce her musical themes and summon up the gods of management and command.

When she will get to the mid-tempo “Pedialyte,” JoJo welcomes one of many album’s most religious collaborators in Peder “Lido” Losnegard. The producer and co-writer of a number of hits by Likelihood the Rapper and Halsey brings JoJo’s multi-tracked harmonics some subtly uncommon twists, injecting her heavenly sound with extra of the warmth and rigidity her ribald lyrics already present.

And he or she does get racy. The Noise Membership-produced “Gold,” with its typewriter-esque percussion and detuned melody (think about a warped 45 of The Stylistics’ “You Make Me Really feel Model New”), finds the flurries of multi-tracked JoJo  in a metaphorical temper when evaluating intercourse with divinity. However the see-sawing tango of “Comeback,” with impolite visitor stars Tory Lanez and 30 Roc, is positively X-rated. So, too, is “Man,” with its good-looking Latin guitar licks and her name for “a f—ing man / Somebody to need me like a fan… / He trip for me like he a stan.”

OK, so JoJo can nonetheless use assist in the lyrical division. Musically and vocally, nonetheless, she’s bought the system down chilly. Whereas a breezy Cali-cool guitar haunts the robo-R&B of “Small Factor” and its smoldering melodic twists, the Lido-produced “Assume About You” finds the singer counting on her personal tripled-up voice in concord with itself as a information to the best type of plastic soul.

JoJo has yet one more trick up her sleeve. Simply earlier than you develop bored of the over-production, the layered synths melding together with her harmonies and an excessive amount of melisma, she pulls out the 2 least FX-driven tracks on “Good to Know” with the 2 most pointed, contagious melodies.

Produced and co-written with Lido and Natalie Dunn, the sluggish “Don’t Discuss Me Down” finds JoJo with a quivering, full-throated, un-processed vocal swooning atop a lounge piano, a really actual set of strings and only a contact of Hammond organ. The melody and association is pure Philly Worldwide Information — Thom Bell/Linda Creed-style — and the sentiment of its lyrics is romantic to the purpose of burning your fingers on the nonetheless flickering candle. Right here, JoJo sounds unbound and unrestricted, her seek for independence and self full. Solely a follow-up such because the final music on “Good to Know,” the spacy Jam & Lewis-like ballad “Proud (Outro),” would suffice.

This finale, produced and co-written by Lido, JoJo and Kennedi (Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa), has the matured singer doing her breathy, rushed vocal finest, slowly and tenderly, underpinned by the fluttering bass work of Thundercat and a sentiment that reveals simply the place her head have to be: “Individuals both love you or they gained’t / It doesn’t actually matter in the event that they don’t.” Spoken like a lady in management.

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