Album Review: Jessie J, R.O.S.E.


Jessie J

R.O.S.E. (released May 25, 2018)

Jessie J, you smart.

When word leaked that the UK pop singer would not only be releasing an R&B project, but that project would be split into four EPs released over four days, a lot of these Twitter experts out here were left confused.

Y’all gotta catch up. It makes perfect sense.

Jessie J may be best known for her pop hits but she’s always dabbled in soul – and her incredible vocals are a perfect fit to convey that type of passion.

And reducing R.O.S.E., her fourth LP, into four separate, bite-sized EPs is a brilliant marketing move. In an era where it’s nearly impossible for fickle fans to listen to an entire album in one sitting, asking them to check out four tracks instead of 16 is a safer bet – especially if those four separate listening sessions go toward streams of the main project.

That’s some Thanos-level plotting right there.

Of course, all the schemes in the world are meaningless if the music doesn’t measure up. Never fear, Jessie delivers, thanks in part to her work with producer DJ Camper, who crafted the soundscapes for the vast majority of the project.

The first installment, R. (Realisations), serves as Jessie’s awakening, for both her career and love life. She unleashes her frustrations on “Think About That,” lashing out against raggedy ex-management, depending on whom you ask: “All you disturb is my work and my patience… You wanna be famous, say it, you wanna be famous.”

The hazy “Dopamine” is as addictive as its namesake, with the midtempo slink of “Easy on Me” putting Jessie’s vocals in prime position to shine. Overall, Realisations, is a pretty tight package.

Of the four EPs, O. (Obsessions) reigns supreme. “Not My Ex” might be the best written song on the album, with Jessie coming clean to her new lover about her troubled past while admitting that her heart is still on the mend. It’s very well done. “Petty” is filled with sass and energy, feeling like a guaranteed crossover hit and “Four Letter Word” is a wonderfully touching tribute to her future child. The only slight misstep is “Real Deal,” an admittedly fun track that oddly feels like it’s stuck in the mid ’00s.

S. (Sex) might seem like the part of the album where things suddenly get salacious but that’s not really the case. In fact the “S” here would be better described as “self love.” “Queen” is a fine empowerment anthem with a poignant message: “Stop feeling like you’re not enough/Stop feeding into the haters.” Jessie demands to be more than a booty call on “One Night Stand” and embraces love on her own terms on “Dangerous.” She even gives us a little Cheryl Lynn on “Play,” but the “Got to be Real” sample is a little too overpowering. It’s fun, just not very adventurous.

The final EP, E. (Empowerment) is probably the weakest of the set in terms of content, but ironically, is probably the strongest in terms of vocal showcases. The powerful horns on “Glory” push the message of empowerment home, setting the stage for “Somebody’s Lady,” which smells like a vocal performance Grammy nomination to me. But as solid as tracks like “I Believe In Love” are, they just don’t compare to the more daring material earlier in the set.

R.O.S.E. is pretty solid individually, but link ’em together like Voltron and you’ll see that their strength is in their unity. As a complete package, it’s one of R&B’s strongest releases of 2018 so far.

Best tracks: “Dopamine,” “Not My Ex,” “Petty”

4 stars out of 5



  1. Great review!! However, Think About That is actually about former management 😌

    • I kinda thought it was about both. Works either way.

    • Yes, it is about management. She literally named them out. All you disturb my patience. That is a dig at her old management company: Disturbing London. Additionally, she explained the song a few times and said it was about being taken advantage by people in the business. Its on her story highlights. 100% not about an ex-lover. Funny, the lyrics really suggest a professional relationship gone sour.

  2. The style of the release was clever but would have been far more impactful had the songs been good. To me, the entire album is a very disappointing snoozefest. I instantly miss the great pop work she had done previously. I was not aware of this new album until today and I can see why now. I had seen no signs of any of these songs anywhere before… and I can see why. In any event, I learned all this because I saw she had an upcoming show in my area this fall so I started considering going to it and then saw this album came out last year. I thoroughly expected to buy a copy and went do so but figured, “hey, why not give it a spin first?”… so I checked it out on YouTube and was surprised and disappointed to find I have really no interest in this stylistic change and none of the songs made me want to listen to them again. Purchase aborted. There are still great vocal skills going on, just sadly amid songs I find unlikeable. There is no intensity in the music, nothing comes across as particularly upbeat, catchy, or melodic… and even the lyrics rub wrong at times. I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I do.

    Too many artists get big and then “finally do what they have always wanted to do” and then leave me longing for whatever it was that had shaped their work earlier on. This has happened with Gaga, Rihanna, and Kesha on their last albums too. As a fan of prior work, it is disappointing to feel they were kind lying to you back then and were always itching to do something else in a style you would not have liked. It makes me think the hitmakers kinda know what they are doing. Anyway, this album is far more self-indulgent than good, imo.

    Not gonna get those concert tickets now either. Add another to the list of “man, they used to be soooo good!” I guess I am glad I at least found this out before buying the album or going to a concert heavily featuring these songs (especially if the prior hits would be ignored). : (

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