New album has lighter, younger feel
Janet Jackson has covered a lot in her 20 year career. As she says in the intro to her new album, "20 Years Old," "I've talked about racism, spousal abuse, empowering women." But this time, Janet wants to "keep it light," she does not want "to be serious," she just wants "to have fun." And that is exactly what she did.
The album uses intros, labeled from 1 to 5, dispersed throughout the tracks in order to separate the more up-beat, dance songs from the medium-tempo R&B tunes and the slow jams. The first five tracks are purely dance songs, starting off with one of her released singles, a dance track "So Excited," featuring Khia. The old-school sounding beat accompanied with the Khia hook of "act bad/ don't hurt me/ look sexy/ talk dirty" makes the song stand out as an excellent track and single. "Show Me" continues the retro-dance feel with a more laid back beat and showcases Janet's voice better than some of the other tracks. Providing words of wisdom to her lover, Janet says, "Show me/ how bad do you want it/ cause actions speak louder than words."
"20 Years Old," produced by Janet's husband Jermaine Dupri, features Dupri's vocals, voice and rap style intermixed throughout the tracks. "Do it 2 Me" features Dupri's voice asking the audience, "can you lean wit it, rock wit it/ can you bounce wit me, bounce wit me." "Do it 2 Me" has an intro reminiscent of Janet's older hit "I Get Lonely," making the track feel like a naughtier, upbeat sequel to the song.
By the second intro, the tracks loose their upbeat retro feel and move to Janet's more usual R&B ballads. "With U," a beautiful slow jam with a laid-back beat is probably the most lyrically talented song on the album. Written by Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri, the track is seemingly dedicated to Dupri from Janet. Janet tells him "never have I have ever been around someone/ who makes life so free and life so fun."
Sounding like she is 20 years old again, in "Daybreak" Janet talks of sneaking out of the house to see her lover. The well-produced song sounds as if it could be on one of her earlier 80's albums. Appealing to the younger audience, Janet says "When they fall asleep/ I'm gonna be free." "Daybreak" is another track that emphasizes Janet's vocal talents.
Flowing into the slower jams, the album ends with relaxing, laid-back songs including "Enjoy" and "Take Care." In "Enjoy," Janet encourages listeners to sit back and enjoy what life offers. "Take Care" is a slow jam without a heavy beat, focusing the attention more on the whispery, light vocals. The sweet melody makes the track soothing and pleasing to the ear.
Although "20 Years Old" is not a classic Janet CD like the older "Rhythm Nation" or "Velvet Rope," Janet seems to honor her 20 year career by moving in a different direction. Overall, the album is light, fun and definitely worth it.
Betsir Zemen. More »