Jackson’s new album, Unbreakable, out October. 2, is a collaboration with Jam and Lewis that marks her first studio release since 2008’s Discipline. Above the simple keyboard line and hypnotic snaps of “Broken Hearts Heal”, Jackson eulogizes her childhood with Michael. She danced hard, the band played hard, and she flipped her lengthy mane as if she meant it. Her hard, angular dance moves and martial precision drained much of the fun out of the playful “Miss You Much”.
Queries about Jackson’s reported conversion went unanswered by her reps, and Jackson’s given no interviews since playing a comeback show August 31 in Vancouver.
“You see I’m not the kind of girl you got to babysit, no, no, if you have things to do, I understand”, she sings, most likely about her beau. She wanted to rally a nation of like-minded individuals to overcome social ills like racism, bigotry and poverty.
On “Shoulda Known Better” she reflects on 1989’s iconic “Rhythm Nation 1814” in which she eschewed pop confections for socially conscious themes.
And while “Unbreakable” has a few B-level tracks – including “Take Me Away” and “Gon’ B Alright” – the album is a reminder that Jackson is one icon who hasn’t lost a beat. Her new music adds to her already rich musical legacy and should sweep her into a new, relevant future.
The only flaw in this stellar and musically diverse collection is that it runs a bit long and a couple of tracks could be axed without sacrificing the flow and overall vibe.
In 1986, producers and songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis imagined an aesthetic between PG-rated Michael Jackson and R-rated Madonna. The fact that Janet is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ought to be a national scandal. The reason? Jackson has received medical advice to rest her vocal cords.
At this stage of her career, Janet Jackson faces the daunting task of regaining her place as an artist of the moment rather than of the recent past.
Janet makes up for that lack of intimacy with her most sonically diverse set since 1997’s quirky, hypersexual The Velvet Rope.
“Hello, it’s been a while, lots to talk about, I’m glad you’re still here”, Jackson coos at the close of the title track, which opens the LP.