The return of JoJo, songbird uncaged, is finally upon us. (There’s so much good music and so much justice being served today. It feels great.)
It’s been a while, to quote a certain Living Legend, since we got new material from Jo: Over four years if you’re counting her last major label release (“Disaster”), and nearly nine years since 2006’s The High Road. Even if you’re counting mixtapes, it’s been well over a year since her brilliant 2014 Valentine’s Day gift, #LoveJo. But don’t you know it’s never really (too little) too late?
JoJo’s grand return comes in the form of a tringle — three singles released all at once — called III. And with each song, Jo supplies a slightly different flavor of what to expect from her upcoming Atlantic Records debut.
The Harmony Samuels-produced “Say Love” is perhaps the most appropriate place to start. It’s a classic bout of straight-up, heart-on-her-sleeve power pop balladry, relying almost entirely on Jo’s superb voice to carry the track and deliver that earnest message: “SAYYYYYY LA-AH-OVEEEE!” Just wait until she hits her stride with those final runs. More like SLAY love, am I right? Sorry, sorry.
“When Love Hurts,” on the other hand, picks up the BPM in what is JoJo’s first-ever solo foray into the House scene, co-crafted with Jason Evigan and Benny Blanco. The song, a celebration of passion for someone (or thing), allows the talented singer to have some fun for once (#TeamNoDrama), let down her hair and bust a move on stage to some club beats — and trust me, the hair was indeed whipping when she debuted the track at her Atlantic Records showcase last week.
The end result sounds something like a Jess Glynne or Katy B cut, which is, potentially, an exciting new sonic path for Jo to explore in the future. She did say she’s been inspired by House music lately, so prepare for more uptempo pulsations to likely appear on her upcoming debut.
And then, there’s “Save My Soul,” which is just…okay. Hold on.
Right. So, “Save My Soul” is the song.
The track, sung from the perspective of an addict (the source of the addiction is open for interpretation), is just devastatingly beautiful (and beautifully devastating), building slowly as our heroine soldiers on through the wreckage, bruised but not entirely broken.
And then, that chill-inducing chorus comes whooshing in: “You can’t save MEEEEEE-yeah-ee-yeah!” That full-bodied belting-into-vibrato? THAT BRIDGE? That “In The Air Tonight”-like drum fill? Just major. More like SLAY my soul, am I right?! Sorry again.
(Also, this is also going to matter to approximately 3 people or less, but there’s something about the chorus that keeps reminding me of Utada Hikaru — I can’t put my finger on which song or why. Perhaps it’s just the vulnerability? Either way, that’s a massive compliment in my book — err, blog.)
In addition to the three new songs, JoJo also recorded a little explanation track for Spotify to talk listeners through each song, so make sure to give it a listen.
Three songs. Three sounds. One talented lil’ Queen with one very long and promising career ahead of her. It’s about fuckin’ time. Congrats, Jo.
III was released on August 20. (iTunes)