Good To Know, by Jojo
It has been a while since I listened to new material from Jojo. An R&B singer who got famous as a young woman singing “Leave (Get Out)” and “Baby It’s You” and who demonstrated her staying power with a second album that featured impressive singles “Too Little Too Late” and “How To Touch A Girl”, she had a break for about a decade from the music industry before releasing Mad Love in 2016 to somewhat diminished sales. Now, almost four years later still, she has released a fourth album in Good To Know. Is this album a return to form and does it give her the opportunity to reach pop success? To be sure 2020 isn’t the most ideal year for an artist to release a song, but does this have a chance to be noticed in a world that does not tend to look kindly upon singers with long gaps in their album cycles?
As far as an album goes, this one is relatively short at 11 tracks and thirty-five minutes. The material is what one would expect of a young woman nearing the age of 30, focusing on love and relationships. Overall the production of this album seems overly spare. Jojo’s voice is as powerful as ever and her songs are certainly relatable to soulful women nearing middle age, but still dealing with the desire to have lasting relationships and find lasting success. The fact that the album beings with two songs with similar titles, “Bad Habits” and “So Bad,” suggests a struggle with creativity when it comes to song titles. “Man” and “Lonely Hearts” have been released from the album as singles and the are among the strongest tracks on the album. Besides those two, “Think About You” is a standout track that shows JoJo struggling to get over a former lover while saying that while she sleeps with other guys she is going to think about him. Um, thanks? The only real letdown here is the last song, “Proud,” which is a short song filled with a mantra about one’s higher power that suggests the singer has been listening too much to New Age magical thinking, one of several bad habits shown on this album that would be best to get over.
Overall, then, this is not as great an album as one would hope. Again, JoJo’s voice is the real star here and her songwriting is usually in good form as she deals with the ups and downs (usually the downs) of relationships. Given the course of her career, it’s likely she will be singing this sort of song as long as someone is willing to release them to the general public, and if you like what JoJo has sung before there will likely be a good deal to enjoy here. The real letdown here, at least for me, is the production. The beats here are generally of b-tier quality at best and do not provide much in the way of variety or interest to the listener, being minimalistic to a somewhat excessive degree. Again, fortunately the album is still enjoyable with the subpar production because JoJo is such an engaging singer, but this is an album that feels like it could have been a lot better. And it doesn’t seem as if there is an obvious hit single here that will resonate with casual listeners who aren’t already fans. That is a shame.