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Music Review: Jessie James – Jessie James

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In recent years the line between country and pop has become increasingly blurred.  From Shania Twain to Faith Hill to Taylor Swift, new “country” records have proven a challenge for music retailers—which genre best describes them?  A new artist that fits into this country-pop category is Jessie James, who adds youth and sex appeal to the sound on her self-titled album.

James is best known for her album’s first single, “Wanted” (co-written with American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi) and “Blue Jeans,” featured in the recent film Confessions of A Shopaholic.  On her website, James cites Christina Aguilera as one of her influences, and “Wanted” definitely sounds like a song off Aguilera’s Stripped

The singer achieves the most success when incorporating country guitar into her pop songs.  “Bullet” is a catchy mixture of banjo, rock guitar, and a danceable beat.  Unfortunately the track includes clichéd lyrics (sample: “Why do you think they call me Jessie James/Sweet as a peach, impossible to tame”), but the rapid-fire banjo redeems the rest of “Bullet.”

Jessie James, courtesy thisisjessiejames.com

“My Cowboy” also utilizes the banjo, but adds a hip-hop beat under laden with a fiddle—think country a la Timbaland.  Of course this song hardly represents a first in this genre—remember Cowboy Troy’s “hick-hop” hit “I Play Chicken with the Train”?  Like “Bullet,” the song is filled with wink-wink lyrics like “saddle up and take me for a ride,” but the harder beat keeps you listening.  “Burn It Up” contains a beat straight out of Nellie Furtado’s “Promiscuous,” although she reminds you of her country leanings by referring to the “sheriff.” 

She also hints at her rocker side with “Big Mouth,” with some rock guitar and a bass line and beat borrowed from a Nine Inch Nails song.  As on other tracks, James displays her considerable pipes; like Aguilera, she possesses a powerful voice and confidence beyond her 20 years. 

“I hate your friends and family/They’re trying to take you from me,” she sneers on “Psycho Girlfriend,” written from the perspective of an obsessed lover.  It takes guts to write and perform a song about an unsympathetic character, particularly a stalker.  More mainstream is “Inevitable,” a midtempo, acoustic-guitar dominated tune that would fit alongside any Swift hit—at the very least, it would suit a movie soundtrack or top-40 radio. 

James has a strong voice well suited toward various musical styles, including country, rock, pop, and dance.  However, her experiments with country best distinguish her from the rest of the pop crowd.  Jessie James simply does not contain enough distinctive material to merit a total recommendation.  At such a tender age, though, she is still developing her sound, and hopefully she will write and choose more interesting material that fully exploits her country leanings. 

For more information on Jessie James, visit her official website and MySpace Music page.

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About Kit O'Toole

  • Clayton Perry

    This is one of my favorite 2009 releases. “Burning Bridges” is my FAVORITE track. And… really shows off those INCREDIBLE pipes! Too bad the single probably won’t ever see the light of day! :-(

  • http://www.kitotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    Clayton, I agree that she has some incredible pipes! I just hope she gets more material to show it off to its fullest extent.

  • Shaking my head…

    She may have incredible pipes but she…basically looks like what people used to refer to as a “tramp”. Just what is she selling? If you have talent, you shouldn’t have to prostitute yourself parading around in skimpy clothes. She talks about doing her housework in her underwear or “nekkid” and then talks about going to church.

    The world is truly a sad place these days. Beautiful girl parading around like a skanky pop princess. Well I guess they all grew up looking up to Britney and booty shakin Beyonce and semi-porn antics of Christian Aguilera. So very, very sad.

  • Shaking my head…

    My comments are based on the two videos I watched last night while cruising around on youtube…connection to Kara Dioguardi’s songwriting. This is not the country that I grew up listening to. Shocking. Country music videos are getting into that semi-porn stage now and I’m no prude. Just like talent to speak for itself.

  • http://www.kitotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that it’s sad when women have to exploit their sexuality in order to get noticed. As I said, she has a decent voice, but obviously feels that she needs to rely on sex appeal. Unfortunately, that approach often works–there are too many examples to cite here.

  • SaraK

    How humiliating it would be as a parent to see your daughter parading around like she does. Just what trailer park does she come from?