Jessie J experienced the difficult second album syndrome pretty spectacularly with her 2013 release Alive. Following on from 2011 debut Who You Are which sold over 1.2 million copies in the UK and enjoyed moderate success in the US, Alive only passed the 200,000 sales mark and didn’t even get a US release. In recent interviews Jessie has admitted that Alive wasn’t as strong as it needed to be and she’s refocusing for new album Sweet Talker.
Sweet Talker arrives hot-on-the-heels of number 1 smash Bang Bang featuring Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. The single has put her back on the map in the US too where it’s so far reached number 3 on the Hot 100 marking her first appearance on the chart since 2011’s Domino. With Sweet Talker Jessie J is back to business and ready to fight for her place in the charts. Interestingly she’s not been as involved with the songwriting this time write with o-writing credits only on 5 tracks.
There’s no doubt that Sweet Talker is geared more towards the current trends in music and it’s got a definite US slant to it. Opening track Ain’t Been Done features Jessie rapping the title quickly with big beats providing the background to her powerful voice. The bangers continue with second track, and new single, Burnin’ Up featuring 2 Chainz which should easily follow Bang Bang straight into the UK Top 10.
One of the complaints we’ve always had about Jessie J is her tendency to screech through songs rather than using the subtleties of her voice and exploring the melodies in a more restrained way. There are still moments where our ears begged for mercy but noticeably the whole album shows off her vocals in a much more pleasant way. One of the shoutier moments is Personal but actually the emotion in her voice makes you forgive the over-reaching.
Elsewhere on the record Sweet Talker is a mid-tempo R&B ballad, Seal Me With A Kiss is a throwback to 90s R&B that Ariana Grande would be proud of, and Fire is a powerful and soaring ballad that shows Jessie’s grand voice off perfectly.
Of the standouts on the album Bang Bang is an obvious highlight and one of the best pop/R&B tracks of the year. Surprisingly Jessie really comes into her own on this record on the ballads. Keep Us Together is a ready for radio number that restrains Jessie’s big voice and uses it much more subtly whilst album closer Get Away succeeds due to its simplicity.
Sweet Talker is without a doubt a stronger album than Alive. It’s packed with more single choices and should see Jessie return to the big sales of her debut. It takes a lot of courage to publicly admit you’ve made a mistake during your career and Jessie is doing everything she can to right that with Sweet Talker. The record has the potential to be a big seller in Q4 so it’ll be interesting to see what reaction it gets from her fans.