Jennifer Lopez - Brave
(Monday October 22, 2007 2:52 PM
Released on 15/10/07
Label: Epic/Sony BMG
How times have changed for Jennifer Lopez. Once the love interest of hip hop's most megalomaniacal Badboy, mogul Sean "Puffy/Diddy" Combs, and famously caught up in a club shooting, she's now happily married to Latino star Marc Anthony and the big controversy is whether she's pregnant or not, potentially with twins. Yet one thing remains the same: her musical output still only features as a prop to her celebrity persona and A-list perfume/lingerie/entertainment branding. And so it is that while speculation is rife as to the cause of mystery bump, the content of her sixth album has passed by largely unnoticed.
The shame of it is that "Brave" is actually one of her strongest albums to date - tied with 2005's uncharacteristically complete and substantial "Rebirth" - and as such is more than deserving of a little attention. The absence of out and out singles may explain why the bump's getting all the headlines, but what it lacks in instant gratification, it largely makes up for with a steady supply of likeable, singable, decidedly '80s pop.
Now thankfully far less concerned with being street and ghetto-fabulous, she's sent most of her R&B; pretensions the way of her J.Lo moniker. The upshot being that "Brave" is more song rather than production led, and, praise the Lord, ballad free. And while there's no end of irony in the fact that there's nothing brave about the nice, friendly, middle of the road songs, at least they're consistent and catchy.
The Arabian bounce of "Forever", disco inferno of "Hold It Don't Drop It" and funk-lite "Do It Well" may not be prime club material, but they all come with choruses and grooves guaranteed to make the housework go with a swing; and home is definitely where Lopez's loved-up attentions are focused here. "Stay Together" claims "Stay together is the new break-up / Heartbreak is so overrated", while "Gotta Be There" takes a Michael Jackson sample ("I Wanna Be Where You Are") and makes a nothing-can-keep-us-apart anthem out of it.
Factor in the stylish affection of "Be Mine", the simpering "I Need Love" and a lot of "Flash Dance" overtones and it's a mighty chick-flick of an album, full of feel-good factor, happy endings and solid songs. Say what you like about Jennifer "homemaker" Lopez - she's not as sexy, strident or imaginative - she's also nowhere near as two dimensional or hit and miss. She's in love, pure and simple, and the effect is hard to argue with.
by Dan Gennoe
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