Walk With Me
funny thing happened on the way to making Jamelia’s third album; the apparent first lady of Brit R&B;, whose biggest success came from songs pinched from other artists, suddenly got popular enough to be able to command the cream of the songwriting crop. The thing? She proves she’s worthy of it—showing real charisma and presence and elevating the caliber of material even further.
Compared to her filler-choked previous album, Thank You, Walk With Me is packed with songs that sound like potential smash hits. Forget the first single, “Something About You,” an awkward fusion of pop ballad and bouncy guitars—aside from that misstep, if there’s a flaw it’s that Jamelia comes off as Blige-lite. But if that’s the case, then something like “No More,” which might as well be Blige’s “No More Drama” sounds like a really good Mary J. Blige single. It’s got just enough bruised resilience to sell the lyric of remaining strong in spite of a lover’s misdeeds.
Walk With Me’s got oddball sonic treasures too. “Do Me Right” bounces Indian beats and playful lyrics off each other bringing to mind Basement Jaxx remixing Madonna’s “Justify My Love.” The storming “Ain’t a Love” boasts dry, funky production that could easily pass for prime-era Janet Jackson. “Beware of the Dog,” even beyond its attention-grabbing sample of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” is an immediately arresting earworm—Jamelia infuses the tightly-compacted, rapid-fire hooks of the chorus with grit and determination.
The weepy string-samples above the scattered, trippy beats of “Get Up, Get Out” are as smart and tight as any other British pop R&B; of recent memory, and bright new thing Sway pops up to lend an inconsequential but quite enjoyable guest verse to the closing track “Hustle,” which sounds like “Eye Of The Tiger” via Motown.
Walk With Me is an easy album to warm to on first listen—and has enough ideas to reward repeat plays. The lack of mood-killing, momentum-destroying slow ballads makes it a consistent, entertaining listen. On the warm synth-enhanced jam “Know My Name,” Jamelia urges her suitors to “up their game” between rapped admonishments. Based on Walk With Me, her competitors will have to up theirs too.
Reviewed by: Edward Oculicz
Reviewed on: 2006-10-03