JoJo’s ‘Mad Love’: Album Review

Jon Reyes | October 14, 2016 8:20 am
JoJo’s latest album Mad Love (out ) is a bona fide comeback. For almost eight years her recording career was caught under the rubble of a lawsuit and Behind The Music-ready industry drama. But once it all cleared, she hit the ground running and made up for lost time by releasing three EPs.

During interviews, JoJo has touched on how the death of her father heavily affected her, the rage she had to let go of after experiencing such intensive legal delays and her personal experiences with depression. So it can be said that Mad Love is personal just by the nature of what came before it, but JoJo is selling songs the same way she sold songs like “Leave (Get Out)” at 13 years old – way before she’d even been kissed.

Cover Story:: JoJo's Mad Return

“Music” opens the album, her first in 10 years, in about the best way it can: with her huge voice paired exclusively with a piano. It’s an earnest love letter to music itself, brilliantly absent of the melisma and over-singing that plague others blessed with pipes like hers. JoJo serenely offers up the words, and a little bit of herself: “Went on the road to make my daddy proud / But I lost him and then I sang to the crowd / My only hope is that he’s looking down thinking / ‘Oh my God, my daughter’s doing it now.’”

With openness comes a healthy dose of irreverence, initially unleashed by pop-perfection lead single “Fuck Apologies.” “I Can Only” and “FAB” show her further exploring realms beyond those of the romantic nature. With the help of Alessia Cara, who’s known for her individualism, “I Can Only,” is pushed somewhere between ballad and anthem with lyrics that come with the experience of being scrutinized the way only recording artists could be. When rapper Remy Ma jumps in on “FAB,” the pair blaze through the opulent beat and searing lyrics, and it makes the case that JoJo is finally at a place where her talent and life experiences are working hand-in-hand.

Her obvious appreciation for music is heard throughout, with R&B bops about sexual liberation (“Honest,” “Like This,” “Edibles”), self-affirming pop anthems (“I Am,” “High Heels,” “Rise Up”) and club-ready tracks (“Vibe” and “Good Thing”) – serving as a salute to what perhaps inspired her during hard times. Whereas a mixture of that magnitude would hijack another recording artist’s project and leave it feeling scattered, JoJo’s vocal delivery steers the wheel and fuses it all together.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. In an era where many artists from JoJo’s generation are suffering through serious bouts of fatigue from overexposure, PR disasters and thirst, she’s sauntering in with Mad Love sounding totally refreshed.

Score: 4/5

Jon Reyes

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