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Review: JoJo - 'Mad Love' (Deluxe Edition)

Updated on October 15, 2016

A decade after hitting the charts at age thirteen with singles ‘Leave (Get Out) and ‘Too Little Too Late’ - plus a slew of subsequently released EPs and independent mixtapes - there’s a sense on JoJo’s third studio album, ‘Mad Love’, that she's still working to separate herself from her famed teenage image.

Now 25-years old, the American singer/songwriter and actress certainly has no problem throwing around very adult swear words that contribute little to the spirit of the actual songs.

While it must be annoying having to deal with lingering adolescent expectations from the wider music community, ‘Mad Love’ won’t completely end them.

That being said, her new record is a tidy playlist of appealing, praiseworthy R&B, pop and dance-orientated tunes.

A small minority of the songs fail to sound as fresh as her voice does - however, the record should be able to retain the loyalty of her devoted fanbase.

Though the star’s singing doesn’t always feel completely distinguished - JoJo is still very much the owner of a capable, octave-flouting vocal.

The record’s introductory cut, ‘Music’ is a melodically endearing tribute to JoJo’s love of performing and contains loving references to the star’s late father who passed late last year.

Breaking into 2-step for it’s hook, ‘Honest’ dissects an unsatisfactory relationship situation with the help of light, floaty, wispy harmonies. Of all the songs on ‘Mad Love’, ‘Honest’ comes the closest to conjuring up a sense of aura, of atmosphere.

With the help of rapper Remy Ma, ’FAB’ (which stands for Fake A*s B***h) directly calls out the snakes who’ve been since dispatched from her immediate circle.

Backed by hip-hop star Wiz Khalifa, JoJo accepts her personal shortcomings on ‘F**k Apologies’. Interestingly, all the F-bomb’s are removed from Alessa Cara-assisted anthem, ‘I Can Only’.

’Like This’ goes toe-to-toe with today’s biggest R&B jams. In order make these types of songs work, JoJo has to communicate sexuality without sounding like she’s playing dress up - and she goes there with gusto on ‘Edibles’.

Munching cannabis-infused treats with her lover, JoJo muses on the joys of bedroom fun on ‘Edibles’, a memorable R&B moment.

JoJo’s sex kitten lyrics are sung in a pouty, playful way. There’s an understated, provocative appeal to the way this song’s melodies and complex beatwork impact.

‘Vibe’ hollowly capitalises on the unstoppable dancehall/pop chart trend initiated by Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’, while the album’s title track features the singer belting over a vintage soul backdrop.

Bolting for the door in a cute outfit, a sassy JoJo leaves her treacherous partner in the dust for pastures new on attitude-fuelled cut ‘High Heels’.

Wholeheartedly assuring listeners of her inner worth, JoJo gives a commendable, stripped-back performance on dramatic, charged and impassioned piano ballad, ‘I Am’.

Scaling the heights of her vocal register, the singer never sounds in trouble - plus, genuinely self-affirmative songs like this are rarely a complete waste of time.

Passable mid-tempo pseudo-EDM/dance number ‘Clovers’ is hindered by overly-decorated, distracting production - it works a little too hard to cater to current chart trends. The tune’s futuristic instrumental drowns out its other elements and the whole track is negatively impacted as a result.

Love conquers all obstacles on inoffensive, rousing R&B track ‘Rise Up’. After singing about the depth of her commitment to those she loves, JoJo utilises a gospel choir for the cut’s outro.

There’ll surely be a section of JoJo’s fanbase who’ll take strength from the sentiments conveyed on ‘Rise Up’.

Dipped in immediate pop appeal, ‘Good Thing’ is a straight-up Nineties house inspired ditty. The track attempts to recreate the lasting appeal of that period’s club anthems and admittedly, ’Good Thing’ is boosted by a hooky bassline loop that’s hard to deny.

JoJo scolds herself for being selfish in a past relationship on ‘Reckless’. Though 'Reckless' doesn’t delve too far beneath a Simon Cowell talent show-type of soulfulness, the songstress doesn’t slack on the track - or at any other point during 'Mad Love'.

Verdict: ******6/10

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