Review: Jessie J - "Who You Are"

2011 and especially the first part of this year is stuffed with interesting album debuts from young, talented female vocalists, featuring names like Katy B and Sky Ferreira. But first to roll out her debut, entitled "Who You Are" is Jessica Ellen Cornish aka. Jessie J.

The first time the name Jessie J popped up in my inbox was around mid 2009. The attachment was this videolog of 'Mama Knows Best', quite different from the things I usually write about but somehow Jessie J and her undeniable raw talent managed to pave way straight to my heart.

Since then she has managed to write a song for Britney Spears that sadly got scraped in the last minute, Miley Cyrus's mega hit 'Party in the USA' as well as she's now writing tracks for none other than Justin Timberlake. The matter of fact is, the first thing I actually posted, her debut single and the first single taken off the "Who You Are", 'Do It Like a Dude', she originally wrote for Rihanna but kept for herself. A tune that ended up with a production by Parker and James /The Invisible Men that's criticising the male domination and male hegemony in the scene in a quite humorous way. Real smart, well put and still not too harsh.

The fact is, "Who You Are" is very loveable over all. It feels true and genuine and at the same time it's perfect urban pop, you know, the same way I guess Christina Aguilera wanted her latest album "Bionic" to sound like. Unlike Aguliera who worked with a slew of huge names like Nicki Minaj, Le Tigre, Ladytron, M.I.A., Jessie's ablum only got one feature aside from the list of producers: B.o.B, who teamed up with her on the second single, the Dr. Luke-produced 'Price Tag'. Personally I prefer Devlin's take on it is better than B.o.B's, esp. on the Shux Remix from the single EP.



And I must say, best of the 13 original album cuts are the up-tempo ones. Besides the singles comes one of my favourites, the Oak-produced 'Rainbow' as well as 'Stand Up'. Sure both are a bit cheesy, or well, A LOT cheesy, esp. 'Rainbow' as it feels like it could have been tailor made for a Benetton-campaign or something. But Jessie J pulls it off, it doesn't feel forced, just vibrant and a celebration for life. My guess is that the very life positive tone stems from the fact that Jessie's life hasn't been a dance on roses even if she's just 23 years old. Suffering from heart-conditions in her youth as well as panic attacks that the headline read a couple of weeks ago. And with that lies Jessie J's key to success, besides her musical talent she's nothing more than a human a it's quite easy to identify oneself with her.



Take the lovely 'Who's laughing Now', for example, a high school reunion in musical form. We all know the classic plot, all who's been to these gatherings know what I'm talking about. The ugly duckling has now operated the teeth or whatever fault he or she had and is out for revenge, putting her or himself out there to show that he or she actually made it. But the sad truth is that back in that very social arena, this person is still social pariah. Hierarchy never change. However, Jessie J actually flips the table and make all her former tormentors eat their words and gets the last laugh herself.



The downside of the album is all the ballads as they doesn't stick or speak to me, just floats by like clouds. Like 'I Need This' and the new third single, the r&b-ish 'Casualty of Love', sure it's very beautiful and everything but I still don't feel it, the production signed Martin K is really really boring. Speaking of awful productions for that matter, Jessie's own acoustic version of the title track, 'Who You Are' (one of the albums five iTunes bonus-tracks) is light years better than the studio version produced by Toby Gad. The essence of the track sort of disappears on the album version, sometimes less is actually more. Jessie J doesn't need more than her guitar to come through.



Mike Diver from BBC Music stated that "Who You Are" was too patched and too hurried in his overall negative review but I beg to differ. Even if the release date got pushed up with a whole month it doesn't matter. The album is recorded over five years period of time and showcase Jessie's great talent. Yes, perhaps a couple of more featured artists and producers could have been added to the list but over all, it's a great debut. Crossing my fingers that the rumoured collaboration between Jessie J and Nicki Minaj actually happens cause the very thought of it is amazing, perhaps Nicki can join in on a remix on Jessie's upcoming single 'Nobody's Perfect'?

"Who You Are" is well earned ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ out of five.

Buy off iTunes or Amazon.