From girl to woman
rmcrae | Houston, Texas | 08/21/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I wouldn't call janet. Miss Jackson's best album (that honor goes to the sonic masterpiece The Velvet Rope), it made an important transition from her socially conscious Rhythm Nation era to the erotic, jazz rooted slow jams on her fifth album. When confronted by a parent for her infamous 1993 Rolling Stone cover (you know you remember it) and newly sensual image Janet asked the woman "How long did you expect me to wait?"
That's the Way Love Goes introduced Janet's sexier side with a hypnotic bassline that wouldn't sound out of place on Sade's Love Deluxe. "Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire/My love is blind, can't you see my desire?" On the flip side, If is more aggressive with gritty guitars, more explicit lyrics ("How many nights I've laid in bed excited over you/I've closed my eyes and thought of us a hundred different ways"), and rougher vocals. "If I was your girl/Oh, the things I'd do to you/I'd make you call out my name/And ask who it belongs to!" She playfully commands a man to work hard for her lovin' because "it won't come easy", but assures him that "by the time I'm through with you/You'll be beggin' me for more!" Just as cocky as she wanna be (get your mind out of the gutter!). The dance song Throb promises that Janet and her man will "boom, boom, boom/Until noon, noon, noon." I don't know if she meant the song as a joke, but I laugh through it anyway.
Any Time, Any Place is the best of the slow jams. With a rainy, late night atmosphere, neo-soul based music (before the term even existed), and Janet's softly, passionate coo, this ode to PDAing (and a bit more) doesn't sound sleazy at all. "I don't wanna stop just because/People walkin' by are watchin' us/I don't give a damn what they think/I want you now." It's over 7 minutes long, but every bit of it is captivating and the best part is Janet vamping a bit while the music just vibes. You might remember the sweet ballad Again from Janet's first major movie Poetic Justice and Funky Big Band mixes jazz with 90s hip-hop.
Love and intimacy go on the backburner for awhile when J gets back in her black Rhythm Nation outfit on New Agenda, a hip-hop heavy crackdown on racism and bigotry. The opera influenced This Time is an impressive track with help from opera legend Kathleen Battle, but I don't listen to it that often. A bit too heavy for my taste. The Rolling Stones sounding What I'll Do is ok, but feels forced. The 60s-ish Whoops Now is so fun and carefree. Reminds me of summer time.
The record has some great moments, but it's not without it's faults. First off, some of the interludes could've been included with their respective songs. 11 seconds of the wind blowing? Really, Janet? Next, the album is all over the place musically. Most records like that tend to venture into several different genres while still maintaining a steady flow, but it sounds like Janet and friends (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) didn't know what they wanted so it's not so cohesive. Despite those faulters, I strongly recommend it. Go for it!"