For her fourth studio album, Grammy-nominated singer, Jessie J, went the conceptual route. Over the course of four separate EPs, Jessie created an acronym out of the word “rose” and conceptualized her album around the themes of realisations, obsessions, sex, and empowerment. The result is an hour-long record of her most natural and mature sound, self-assured control, and a quiet strength and power.
The “realisations” section of the album houses three full tracks and an intro of sorts. “Think About That,” the second promotional single released from R.O.S.E., is a swaggering hip-hop influenced R&B tune in which Jessie ruminates on times of betrayal in her professional and personal lives. The song has been a standout in Jessie’s discography since its original release back in September 2017, and it still sounds fresh. Following “Think About That” is the stellar “Dopamine,” a track that is incredibly catchy without sounding forced or formulaic. The slinky, synth-filled midtempo implores the world to pay attention to the news and not get caught up in mindless drama and gossip. The final track in this installation is “Easy on Me,” an emotional, jazzy record about growing at your own pace. The “realisations” section of R.O.S.E. is remarkedly strong.
The “obsessions” section of the record follows the same trend. With tracks like the funky promotional single, “Real Deal,” the sassy promotional single, “Not My Ex,” and the standout “Petty,” Jessie J is shining throughout R.O.S.E. The songs cover healthy obsessions with love and motherhood and unhealthy obsessions with toxic romantic and platonic relationships. The “obsessions” section is a bit weakened with the final track, “Four Letter Word,” an ode to her future newborn. Thematically, the song feels somewhat out of place and plodding tempo makes the song drag ever so slightly. Luckily, Jessie makes a quick recovery with the “sex” section of the album. This section includes the album’s lead single, “Queen,” a self-empowering, laid-back, and sensuous tune, as well as the pulsating and boisterous uptempos, “Dangerous” and “Play.”
Finally, the closing section of R.O.S.E., “empowerment” initially feels too timid, but ultimately ends the record beautifully. The gospel-infused “Glory” is more a production and instrumental feat than a lyrical and vocal one; the organs and horns on this track are immaculate. The following interlude seems to be a quasi-extended outro to “Glory,” but it is completely unnecessary and a waste of space. The interlude, “Rose Challenge,” then bleeds into “Someone’s Lady,” which is somewhere at the intersection of 50’s doo-wop, 90’s vocal diva acrobatics, and quiet storm. Lyrically, the song reads to be the opposite of “empowerment;” it seemingly suggests that Jessie needs a lover to complete herself. Lastly, the album closes with the stunning ballad, “I Believe In Love,” just listen to it, it is beyond beautiful.
R.O.S.E. shows us a new Jessie J, this version is more confident, self-assured, and impassioned than ever before. The decidedly laidback R&B soundscape is a perfect canvas for Jessie’s rich voice to leap, twirl, and extend on topics near and dear to her heart. R.O.S.E. is a great example of what can result from working with one producer, the album is cohesive without sounding monotonous, and she never goes into autopilot as a vocal performer or a writer. I highly suggest giving R.O.S.E. a spin, you won’t be disappointed.
KEY TRACKS: “Think About That,” “Dopamine,” “Petty,” “I Believe In Love”