God loves a trier, and by that standard Jessie J ought to be loved very dearly. She’s certainly turned around a heap of negativity and, er, a talent show win in China into an owned victory. Also, she just doesn’t really seem to give a fuck what anyone else thinks. Which is great.
R.O.S.E. is a Jessie J you’re not expecting, but one that we’re surprised to report is much more endearing and musically exciting than any of her previous outings. She takes on an entirely R&B sound across the four EPs – Realisations, Obsessions, Sex, and Empowerment – and for the most part she succeeds.
Opening with Oh Lord, Jessie J reminds us that her voice is always the draw. She navigates lower octaves with an ease that deserves an ovation, breaking the brash person to reveal real vulnerability and heart. The production is minimal, nocturnal guitar providing the bed for a confessional before Think About That and the superb Dopamine take over.
If anything lets Jessie J down, it’s the actual words themselves. Occasionally they click, such as Petty or Someone’s Lady, but for the most part they end up as self-esteem boost 101 that jar even more because of the personality behind them. Comparing to her searing and open lines on Not My Ex, it’s even more frustrating given she’s showing us what she can be capable of with the right ingredients.
There are some tremendous moments here across the four EPs and 16 songs, and the individual collections are all worth your time for different reasons. We’d also argue that songs like Dangerous and Four Letter Word are some of the best of Jessie J’s career, an earnest attempt to put gimmickry aside for proper artistry. Ten of these tracks could be put together for a fantastic R&B album; for now, we’re more than happy to see someone turn around so much negativity and turn out a career we can all be proud of.