It’s been nearly 30 years since Janet Jackson had her musical breakthrough with her third album “Control”. Which allowed people to look beyond the fact she was Michael Jackson’s kid sister and see her as a creative force to be reckoned with, she went on release more albums that showcase more layers to her as she owns her womanhood, which all received commercial success and had cultural impact.
Jackson finally make her highly waited return on the music scene with the release of her new album titled ‘Unbreakable’,which is her first album since 2008`s”Discipline”. She produced the album with the help of legendary production team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who have produced some of her most iconic albums to date and had this to say about working with her: “It’s wonderful to be creating again with Janet, from songwriting, producing, arranging, singing, dancing, acting, she deftly does it all and truly personifies the word ‘artist.’ Unbreakable is a gift to all of her fans who have steadfastly stood by her.”
Janet kicks off the album with the title track which serves as a love letter to her fans for all of their support “Truth is, truth is that I wouldn’t be here without the love I stand on. Anytime I get lost in the world, you’ll always be there, to care and share in the joy and the pain, Our love won’t change…” she sings over a warm, breezy production.
She follows it up with “BURNITUP”featuring Missy Elliott, it is a funky uptempo number that features a fantastic mixture of beats: electronic, pop sensibilities and house drums, which all creates a very solid foundation for Janet lay down sassy sultry vocals as she tells the DJ to turn it up : “When the DJ play this we gon’ dance like no one’s watching. Hey Mr DJ, bump the track and won’t you turn it up? I’ma dance all night and I don’t care who’s out there watching us, just give me that fire and I’m gonna show you how to burn it up.”
Missy once again proves to be a perfect match for her as she brings so energy and personality to the track with a entertaining verse: “Whooo, I’ma shut this down. Kitty kat, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow. Hit it with the he, to the he to the how, Miss Jackson, oh she wear the crown….”
“Dammn Baby” is one of the highlights of the album as it has a retro production with a modern touch to it and also finds channeling her ‘The Velvet Rope’ era with the break down, she sample her own song ” I get so lonely”. “A brand new movement that started with a conversation in a cafe, it’s all about love and how we ain’t never gon let words get in the way. When you’re giving it up, it’s never what you say, it’s saying what you do. You wanna show me love, let’s keep that conversation going honey…” she sings over a chunky bassline will have you twerking your butts left and right.
“The Great Forever,” finds her showcasing her vocals so beautifully as leans into her deeper alto, which exposed strong shades of her brother Michael. The song is about acceptance and compassion: “Not too pleased with what you’re diggin’, I’m just busy livin’ my life. Sources say but where ya gettin’ it, don’t create the truth you like. It might sound strange to you, what you think it don’t mean nothing at all. Doesn’t change who I am, doesn’t change who I love. Living my life the way that I hope is leading me to the great forever.”
“Shoulda Known Better” follows it up perfectly as takes a mature look at the reality of trying to make a positive change and a social change in this world we live in: “It’s never the critic that counts, cause critics only wanna talk. While enlightened minds and open hearts, together make this world a better place. Awakening a better choice, it only starts if you lift your voice and say I shoulda known better. And so next time I’ll know better, why why why why.”
“After You Fall” is a a piano driven number that sees her delivering a very soothing vocal performance as she refers to personal happenings: “Who’s gonna be there after you fall, who’s gonna be there after it all. Your resilience so brilliant, yeah you stand strong but this pain you feel, never thought that uh hurt, could be so deep and now trust for you has new meaning.”
“Broken Hearts Heal” is Janet’s tender ode to her late brother Michael and her siblings, about their upbringing – a upbeat track that sounds like a rainbow: “It was a long long time ago but I remember it like yesterday, amazing times while we were growing. Round all the brightest stars the world had seen, we made-up songs to do our chores to and harmonized while we all did our part. Danced and sang our way through most anything, always felt safe in each others’ love.”
“Night” is a house ready jam that will definitely have you on your feets, dancing and singing along, it`s a very catchy number and the electronic production works amazingly well with her vocals.
She slows things down with “‘No Sleeep” a sultry number that sees her teaming up with J.Cole, she`s totally in her elements as she delivers a soothing and soulful vocal performance as she sings about missing her man whenever they are away from each other and when they come together they will be making love till the end of time “You missing me, me missing you, whenever we meet, we ain’t gonna get no sleep.”
With the backing of a soulful vocal sample, “Dream Maker/Euphoria” become a perfect mixture of Motown and today`s contemporary R&B, with amazing key changes, very resembling of Prince. “Wish I could create a perfect place (wouldn’t that be perfect someday) without jealousy, abuse or hate and all just living off love and I’m never giving up, because I wanna master love cause the world is just so beautiful. I just wanna see it come to life…” she sings.
“2 B Loved” could easily be her 2015 version of her 2000 hit sing “Doesn’t Really Matter” as it features similar elements but with a more soulful touch to it : “You don’t be looking for true love, let it come to you it’s right in front of you. Grab it, though I never will be perfect, I’m perfect for you. What you deserve in love, I have it..”
“Take Me Away”is another highlight on the album, as it finds her stepping out of her comfort zone and abandoning the Janet Jackson signature, which all paid off as this track forced her to bring out the best in herself – delivering solid vocals over a vivid electro-rock arrangement as she sings about looking for escape with a lover: “You’ll always be that spy that was sent to save me from intimate danger. The world’s playin’ my mind, when I’m ’bout to lose it. Boy you’re the game changer, oh this silly heart of mine lost to a cutie pie. He so turns me on, it keeps getting stronger, ooh I get a natural high just looking in his eyes. So just hold me close, I’m waiting for you.”
“Promise” is a short but sweet track that has a piano driven production, it acts a perfect intro for “Lessons Learned” an acoustic country number with jazz fusion accent, Janet is so emotionally invested as talks the story of a couple going through troubles, while encouraging the girl to stay strong: “She cries, I just want my baby back, I don’t care I don’t wanna think back. All the fights, the pain, the scars, can’t compare to the love in his heart, now he’s feeling bad for what he’s done…He’s himself cause that record is done.”
“Black Eagle” is another highlight, is a mellow R&B number with trap drums and finger snaps, with powerful lyrics about acknowledging the people who’ve been always outsiders in their lives and speaking in their defense: “I’m singing this love song to show my support, to the beautiful people who have been ignored. With blind eyes and cold shoulders attacking them, invisible people they won’t let fit in. Let’s open our eyes to the true barriers, stereotypical things are the worst. Stand face to face with the real ugly truth, how would you feel if that was you?”
In “Well Traveled” she sings about being shaped by everything she has experience especially with her world travels over the years, “In every race, every place that I’ve ever been,there is so much beauty. Down every highway’s the by-way to exit again, so much love I never wanna leave. I’ve come a long way, got a long way to go cause I’m so well traveled. Wherever life takes me I’m willing to go, whatever it takes from me, I’ma let it all go…” It also serves Joni Mitchell–like ode, who has always been about moving around and experiencing life with a richer understanding.
Janet closes the album with a thumping, soulful funky number “Gon’ B Alright” that recalls Sly and the Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher” and also the Jackson 5`s “Can You Feel It” sounds, as she sings lyrics about the importance of love in everything people do: “We all need a little love, when we get down in the dumps. Because we, we gon’ be alright cause a love intervention. Gonna help us make it through, ya know…we gon’ be alright”
Overall “Unbreakable” is simply a masterpiece with of an artist like Janet Jackson, has it finds her once again showcasing new layers to her, everything sounds so rich from the production to the songwriting and I have to say I have never heard her sing the way she does on this album, she has grown stronger as a vocalist.