JoJo is a very talented singer and from the several previews to her stand out single, she has done another great job with this record. JoJo (aka Joanna Levesque) releases her second major label CD titled The High Road. Armed with a top lineup of writers and producers, namely Swizz Beatz, Scott Storch, Diane Warren, Sean Garrett, Bo Dozier, Billy Steinberg, Josh Alexander, Ryan Leslie, and SoulShock and Karlin. The song ''Exceptional'', written by Diane Warren, struck a personal chord with JoJo: ''I've had low moments where I just didn't feel good enough... we all do,'' she says. ''This song definitely makes you feel better about yourself.'' Warren also penned ''Note to God''. And again, it was the tears that did it. When Warren first played it for JoJo and her mom on the piano, mom broke down on the spot. JoJo was so moved she recorded the song that night in under an hour. What listeners hear on the album is the raw and unedited end result. She picks up the pace with straight-out party jams like ''This Time'', produced by Scott Storch, and ''The Way You Do Me'' by Swiss Beats. With JoJo's complex vocalizations over highly-infectious beats, these songs are impossible to listen to sitting down. On the hard-hitting track, ''Anything'' (Bo Dozier), JoJo puts a funky new spin on a familiar 80's megahit Toto's Africa. Perhaps the record she's most proud of is ''How to Touch a Girl,'' which she co-wrote with Steinberg. JoJo admits the lyrics were influenced by real-life romantic events.''I was confused about a boy,she says, so I wrote this to tell him how to touch a girl's heart.'' The record's simple and sumptuous sonics are reminiscent of soul and jazz classics from back in the day. Not surprising, considering JoJo's greatest influences are artists like Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Etta James and Stevie Wonder.
Back in 2004, when JoJo was 13 and seemed entirely too much like a character out of the parent-scaring movie Thirteen,
nobody, not even her mom, could have guessed she had a disc as good as The High Road
in her. What a difference a couple of years and a squadron of slicker-than-thou producers make. Beyond the addictive but not over-the-top radio hit "Too Little Too Late," The High Road
is littered with pit stops both elegant (the dreamy-sweet ballad "Exceptional," the angsty, soulful "How to Touch a Girl," and the introspective "Note to God") and shoulder-shimmyingly fun (the sexy-funky R&B tease "This Time," produced by Scott Storch; the hip-hop heater "The Way You Do Me," done up with characteristic magic touches by Swiss Beatz; and the go-girl rock number "Comin' for You," whipped to a perfect-peaked froth by Soulshock). What makes these songs and others--particularly "Let It Rain," with its tick-tick-tick-tick beat--standouts is not raw artistry but careful, willful calibration. JoJo's vocals are full-throated, creamy, and increasingly Beyonce-like, but even when they veer in a Monica-reminiscent direction (check "Good Ol'"), they're given their due with wide-open beats and rhythms that feel less ratcheted-up than right in time. Expect The High Road
to log a lot of travelers, none of them weary. There's not a pothole in sight. --Tammy La Gorce