Monday, July 20, 2009

Jordin Sparks CD Review: A True R&B Diva Has Arrived

It was obvious from the first time she declared, “Better go and get your armor” that we were dealing with a more mature Jordin Sparks.

And that maturity shines through big time on her new CD, “Battlefield,” as Jordin gives us a much stronger sound than we got with her debut album. Plus, Jordin worries a little less about radio-friendly pop and focuses on songs that show off her considerable vocal talents…

Jordin does show the playful side we’re used to with songs like “Walking On Snow,” “Emergency (911)” and “S.O.S. (Let The Music Play),” which features the chorus of the 80s Shannon hit, “Let the Music Play,” but there’s definitely more of an edge. Mid-tempo songs like the FeFe Dobson cover, “Don’t Let It Go To Your Head,” “It Takes More” and “Watch You Go” are smooth as silk. And Jordin doesn’t forget the ballads as she scores with “Was I the Only One” and the beautiful album closer, “The Cure,” which shows off a nice falsetto.

Jordin takes two slight risks with the mid-tempo “Let It Rain” and the gospel-influenced, “Faith.” “Rain” has a great verse, but the chorus tries a rock edge that doesn’t completely work and causes her to go a little overboard with her voice. “Faith” sounds eerily similar to a good Mariah Carey ballad. The bridge to the gospel portion of the song does lack a little punch, but Jordin brings it back with a nice ending.

The two standouts here are the title track and current single “Battlefield” and the ballad “No Parade.” “Battlefield” was the perfect first single from the CD because it beautifully announces Jordin’s arrival as an R&B force to be reckoned with. “Parade” does the same but in a much different way. This song has hit potential written all over it with Jordin’s beautiful use of her lower register on the verse and the beautiful chorus: “Just another day like any other/Nothin’ in the sky said run for cover/Just another reason I never thought that it would end this way/There was no parade/No lights flashing/No song to sing along the way.”

One of the many things I love about “American Idol” is watching how the winners advance through their careers. And Jordin’s second effort is definitely a step in the right direction as she serves notice to Rihanna, Beyonce, and other R&B divas that she has arrived.

I suggest that they’d better go and get their armor…

“Battlefield” is available in stores and on digital outlets Tuesday, July 21st…

Photo Credit: Mark Liddel/Jive Records