Album Reviews

Janet Jackson – Damita Jo

(virgin america) UK release date: 29 March 2004

After the outrage that Nipplegate instigated and the ongoing problems with Michael, there’s a fair bit of pressure on the Jackson camp. But it seems this family thrives in adversity, and Damita Jo gives no hint that intrusion has adversely affected Janet Jackson.

The intro doesn’t really have any impact, nor does Damita Jo’s title track; they more sweep over without leaving or requesting further investigation. Sexhibition begins the fun with its delightfully fast beat mirrored in the suggestive lyrics.

Strawberry Bounce features a cameo sample from Jay Z but it’s the whispered expletives that really draw attention to the song. Kanye West – who clearly had a big influence on the creation of Damita Jo – probably brokered this deal. The man of the moment features heavily on the production side and has a vocal input on My Baby.

My Baby sparks off a backroom chill and/or lullaby sort of vibe, which isn’t really my bag but it’s a welcome break from the pounding beats I subject myself to pretty much on an hourly basis. The opening words to All Nite (Don’t Stop) “this is sick” ups the ante a bit, with a funky bass guitar underpinning the track; the change makes the transition to R&B Junkie that bit smoother. The pure disco beats take the listener straight back to the old skool.

Like You Don’t Love Me is a bit more slushy, as is Thinkin’ Bout My Ex, but the album’s opener Looking For Love gives a warning that this avenue would be at least explored during the proceedings. It’s also a sign that Miss Jackson is keeping up with the competition… slosh is selling at the moment. Moist is a bit more vulgar but it’s veiled with soft pianos and an angelic voice.

SloLove ironically is not slow at all but then it’s not fast either. Confusingly I don’t even think you could call it mid-tempo, but what is clear is that this is an unadulterated piece of radio-friendly pop. Unusually the first single from Damita Jo, Just a Little While, ends the album and without wanting to review the single it seems a little bit out of place. Not that the song isn’t good, it just doesn’t fit with previous tracks. Nonetheless it isn’t a bad way to close an album.

Damita Jo doesn’t boast many stand out tracks, and it isn’t an album that can be listened to. On the whole it’s a very passive collection of songs. Good thing or bad? I’m undecided but my mum described it as “lovely” while cleaning – which just about sums up Damita Jo.

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