Jennifer Lopez - Brave

Posted October 9, 2007

Remember when Jennifer Lopez was the biggest female performer in music? She was sitting pretty...

Brave Album Review

Remember when Jennifer Lopez was the biggest female performer in music? She was sitting pretty atop the charts, graced the cover of every tabloid in the world and shook her assets so well, Chris Rock joked she showed up for the Grammy’s “in two limos, one for her, and one for her booty.” Those were the days. Well apparently J-Lo learned a couple things from her brief fling with Diddy (other than how to shoot someone in a club…allegedly). Over the last few years the once infamous drama queen has moved behind the scenes, concentrating on her role as the CEO of the J-Lo empire. But how long can a diva go without the loving caress of the spotlight?

Two years. That’s how long it’s been since her last major English album, the disappointing (by J-Lo standards) Rebirth. Ms. Lopez is ready for center stage again with the release of her new album Brave, a work short on lyrical depth but long on dance-ability and pop infused enjoyment. No more tales of heartbreak and pain for J-Lo, she’s finally happy and wants the world to know it.

Has J-Lo’s moment in the musical sun already passed her by, or can she still regain the top spot? It depends on what track you’re listening to. The most likely candidate for a smash hit is Do It Well, the ass-shaking masterpiece she’s wisely chosen as her first single. The tracks got that “classic” J-Lo feel, huge strings and horns pared over funk-based percussion, with just a dash of Latin flavor thrown in. Do It Well is as epic as a song designed for moving in the club can be, even if the song’s about two-third’s incredible production, one-third J-Lo’s singing. For the record it will be a crime if the remix doesn’t get released because Ludacris absolutely murders his guest verse. Stay Together, produced by Sean Kingston’s daddy J.R. Rotem, is another certified shaker with a live band feel that pulses across the speakers. It’s what feel good pop should be, though I have to address the lyrical content: J-Lo let’s everyone know “break-ups are overrated/stay together, that’s the new trend.” Getting relationship advice from J-Lo is like being taught advanced calculus by Paris Hilton. There, I’ve said my peace.

J-Lo’s strength had never been a dynamic singing voice and the ballads on Brave prove it. Never Gonna Give Up begins with over two minutes of her voice weaving in and out of a string orchestra, but without huge production filling the space behind her J-Lo’s voice sounds thin, just slightly better than average. Keyshia Cole would have killed it. Then again, Wrong When You’re Gone shows she can bring some soul to the mic when she’s adequately inspired. The softly clapping production will be stuck in your head for days, shockingly enough it wasn’t produced by Ne-Yo. For her part J-Lo rises to the occasion with her best vocal performance on the album, even though that’s not saying much. Before I start getting death threats from the J-Lo fan club let’s just be honest: her voice doesn’t sell records. If she looked like Jennifer Hudson she’d struggle to even get a record deal. I’m not hating on anyone, that’s just the stone cold reality of the music industry.

Still, most of Brave falls somewhere in between great club anthems and lackluster slow jams, a place also known as guilty-pleasureville. The Way It Is has my favorite production on the album. Built around a live drum that stutters and paves it’s way through the track like a suave b-boy, J-Lo hits the perfect balance between R&B and pop. I’m secure enough in my manhood to admit I was singing along in the car. The title track Brave is more personal diary than hit single for the romantically troubled Ms. Lopez, but it’s exactly the kind of pro-woman track that’s equally at home in a Disney show and a grown woman’s stereo after a bad break-up. I’m not exactly in either demographic, but I can still appreciate the appeal. Brave, the song and the album as a whole, is designed to please J-Lo’s original fans, but how many of those people have moved on to Beyonce and Rihanna? I guess we’ll find out a week from now when the sales receipts come in. In closing let me add this: I don’t care what you say J-Lo; you’re a long, long, way from being just Jenny from the block.

DJBooth Rating - 2.5 Spins

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Posted October 9, 2007
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