BBC Sound of 2011 Jessie J’s comeback has been a somewhat quiet affair in comparison to her seemingly global takeover at the start of her career. Rejecting the traditional album format, there are 4 separate EPs that make up R.O.S.E., now there are ways to innovate – but when thinking about how instant & simplistic pop formats need to be; and it becomes clear there’s a reason why this hasn’t really been done before. In their separate parts, each EP represents a different facet of Jessie J’s personality, which on the plus side contains more diversity than most formulaic artists of recent times.
The R stands for Realisations, which makes a lot more sense when you listen to lyrics about missing planes, children being gunned down and unreliable label bosses. Opener Think About That is concerned with the latter, and in the process J’s apparent fall from grace. This EP is incredibly smart; not financially, but intellectually. Jessie J has taken all of the barriers that have affected her success over the years and transformed it into an awesome foursome of jazz tinged brush offs – painting her as the considerably bigger person than many outlets would have us believe.
With O, we get Obsessions, a distinctly more up to date affair with Real Deal singlehandedly able to catapult J into 2018. Tracks like Petty and Not My Ex indicate an artist who is no longer afraid to be devastatingly honest about how she feels. The low-key jazz vibe is continued here, much to the benefit of Jessie J’s voice which is much better suited to a more soulful style.
This whole thing is beginning to feel like a cheerleader chant. Give me an S! The aptly titled Sex portion again takes no prisoners. This group of tracks are all about getting a little down and dirty, despite their ever so slightly predictably cheesy lyrics. One Night Lover seems like J is trying a little too hard to appear risqué, taking a leaf out of Rihanna’s book but not quite able to pull of such an effortlessly alluring vibe.
Finally we get to E, or Empowerment. The Big Spender-esque intro of Glory is the big pop comeback many will have been expecting from Jessie J. It’s a late contender for a highlight from across all four EPs, with the little 90s TLC touches truly embodying J’s over the top sassy spirit. Sadly, the big dazzle dazzle is short lived as closing track I Believe In Love doesn’t quite carry the message of empowerment set out in the first half of this section.
Splitting an album into four chunks is a brave move for a popstar, in a genre when fans are a little more casual and expect everything to be delivered to them in one all consuming format. That said, R.O.S.E. feels like Jessie J almost fully rejecting her more mainstream appeal in order to put out a collection of tracks that mean a great deal to her on a more personal level. It might not be the kind of thing I normally go for, but as a project it’s actually quite skilled and enjoyable.