Do You Know
Jessica Simpson is all country. At least by her own account. She has fully embraced the sound of Nashville pop-country, along with all the elements of its image. The conversations flavored with “Y’all” and “Bless your heart” and all those sweet, southern sayings. The wardrobes of jeans, t-shirt and a perfectly worn pair of cowboy boots. And the songs feature just enough steel and country sass to fit well with all that has become mainstream country music. Is the image a true reflection of Simpson as a person? Likely. Are the songs there? Unfortunately not, for the most part, on Do You Know.
The first single, “Come On Over,” became a Top 20 success on country radio; however lyrical content is not its strong suit. In fact, it fully discloses the major problem that courses through the entire album. Do You Know sounds good, thanks to Brett James and John Shanks, who aim to please fans with a mix of innocuous country licks amidst the melodic tricks of pop music. However, the stories in the songs are rarely there, and even when the material matches the rest of mainstream country music today, the production choices are, at best, questionable.
For example, “You’re My Sunday” speaks to a lazy-day love with the silence and sensitivity found in the best of relationships, and then Simpson starts to hollering in the chorus and the peaceful, easy feeling dies a painful death. Plus, the music tends to drown out the message. And on “Might As Well Be Making Love,” Simpson tries to strangle every note on a song that otherwise is a tender ode to reconnecting with her man.
Even when the music matches the mood, the results are fair to middling. “Pray Out Loud” is a song about faith and fearlessness in the face of struggle, but the mid-tempo number hardly shows a pulse. Same goes for “When I Loved You Like That,” a fairly non-descript track that tries to cover too much terrain without having a central theme. On an album supposedly full of important ideas, they are often absent altogether.
The most notable (and honestly, the most focused) track is the title cut, a song written specifically for Simpson by country legend Dolly Parton, who lends her distinctive vocals to the title track, “Do You Know.” Although her harmonies seem a little out of place in such a contemporary setting, it’s the best one on the album. The lyric is unique and unyielding in its power, and Simpson is (finally) in fine voice.
Simpson is a capable singer, but her wailing ends up failing her on a number of tracks that could use a gentler touch. Does she belong in country music? Her country music “roots” and her comfort level within the genre suggest that one day she could, given great country songs and better artistic advice. But those qualities aren’t featured here. At least by my own account.
It would be easy for me to say something nasty about Jessica, but I will resist the temptation here. But I do want to offer some thoughts just the same.
Whether Jessica Simpson has a career in country music is something her fans, whatever their numbers, will have to determine. But I just don’t hear anything about her that distinguishes her from any of the other pop or rock stars who have “gone country” in the last three years. There’s nothing remarkable about it. To use a phrase Linda Ronstadt used about this stuff five years ago, it’s really “mall crawler music.”
Oh it really is this bad, the full album. Still 3 stars higher and more country than Jewel’s album.
Of course.. she IS from Texas..
.. does that make her more Country, or less tolerable? ;)
I haven’t heard it yet…but, just because I’m curious and “Come on Over” was a guilty pleasure, I’ll be gettin this album from iTunes. So I shall see how good or bad it is…but it should be interesting!
Judging by her current single alone, Jessica to me sounds like most of the Country-Pop artists out there. Unremarkable and generic, but not bad.
I have taken some shots at Jessica’s leapfrog to the top of the Country video charts, but I do applaud her sincerity and her desire to go Country.
I wish her well, but I hope she does better in the future.
Nice thoughtful and well balanced review by Blake.
-Steve from Boston
I think that because this is Ms Jessica Simpson, a celebrity whose ‘tabloid reputation’ often proceeds her, she will always have people skeptical and writing reviews from a negative starting point.
I have heard this album and I feel that your review is an unballanced review. You focus on what you believe to be a lack of ‘story telling’ and that Ms Simpson tends to over sing where you believe the song requires more tender vocals. The review however gives no credit for musicality of the songs. Is it harmonious, melodious and pleasant to the ears? I found most of the songs were. Your comments about ‘You’re my Sunday’ are arguable. I personally enjoy the contrast between verse and chorus with the verse reflecting her peaceful contemplation of the impact of her love and the chorus providing a glimpse of the choatic life that this very love she sings about save her from. But in any case what about her soothing tones on ‘Still don’t stop me’ and ‘Man enough’- are those not the tender odes you hoped for in the other more angsty tracks. ‘Might as well be making love’ was to me one of the stand out tracks with superb vocals creating a strong and passionate love ballad. I hear no strangled notes but instead powerful and passionate vocals as she belts out the chorus. Your review made no mention of ‘Rememeber that’- which again is another stand out track with a clear story and central theme and is indeed well sung.
As someone interested to see how Ms Simpson could make the move from pop and tabloid star I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with this as a country debut at the least. Certainly Ms Simpson seem to be more comfortable with Country music and country music more comfortable with her.
I think you said it all in the first two sentences of your review.
Since it wouldn’t be fair of me to comment on the album, as I haven’t listened to it, I will say that I’m interested in hearing the song with Dolly. While I think that Dolly, like Willie, isn’t above trying to stay commercially relevant by being willing to collaborate with just about anyone, I at least have to give everything she does a try. I heard a clip of it, though, and I wasn’t too impressed.
I think her album is AWESOME! It has a mixture of Dixie Chicks + Faith Hill type of songs. I love almost all of them! The lyrics are fantastic and the track sequence are great, her producers Brett James and John Shanks did a wonderful job. I predict a multi-platinum album in future!
Fun fact: Rhapsody currently has “You’re My Sunday” listed as “You’re My Sinday.” What a difference a vowel makes.
I’m looking forward to giving this one a listen.
I am looking forward to listening to it too. Do I expect much (no) but it will be the first Jessica Simpson album I spin.
I honestly expected a little more from Simpson. Celebrity and its surroundings are hard to ignore, it’s true. But with Music Row’s best writers and producers at her disposal (because of this celebrity, mostly), I figured that the song quality and artistic decisions would have been stronger.
Here’s a link to the duet with Dolly:
That particular YouTube account also has a video for every song off the album. Therefore, you can check it out for free before you make the purchase!
So far, my biggest problem with the album is Jessica’s tendency to infuse her pop tendencies into country. Now, a lot of big female country stars have this problem, but why the wailing? One verse and then a wailing chorus. Blake said it best with: “Then Simpson starts to hollering in the chorus and the peaceful, easy feeling dies a painful death.” I don’t care who the singer is, for me, that usually kills a country song.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this album does fairly well. Jessica stuck incredibly close to the current country radio format. Carrie Underwood fans should eat this up. It’s Rascal Flatts power-pop safe. I didn’t hear a break-through amazing song, but those gems are few and far between on radio these days anyway.
After you listen to it, come back and post!
I lived to Patty Loveless’s entire album all morning on CMT.com. Now I’ve just listened to Jessica Simpson’s. What a difference. I’m sorry, but this album blows. It’s just so generic and bland and there is nothing special about her voice to sell any of these songs. Even Dolly Parton can’t help it.
That should be I “listened”.
I know, Roger, I just can’t say enough good things about the Patty album!!
I will hear the Patty album soon (and I hopefully will be chatting with her about it).
Here’s my Review of it at Roughstock.
If you’ll be hearing the Patty album soon, how can you already have a review of it at roughstock?
Oh, sorry, I see that you meant the Simpson album.
yeah, sorry…Should’ve been better with my words about Jessica. Hopefully it was ok that I posted the link here ;)
Sure, we’re all friends here. Now, if you were just some random commenter who stopped by just to promote your review, things might be different. But you regularly contribute to our discussions. So, you’re cool.
Yeah, I’d get mad if it was someone like that commenting over at Roughstock…
Dang, I can write today (not!). Guess it’s already ‘five o’clock’ in my mind. Anyway, I meant to say that I’d get mad if some new person linked to a site (while commenting at Roughstock) and I didn’t know who they were.
Roger, after hearing the Patty’s whole new album, is CRAZY ARMS still the best of the bunch in your opinion? I am of the opinion that Patty’s version of Crazy Arms is better than anything on the charts today, by far.
I know the whole album will be stellar, but I am waiting to be surprised to hear the remaining songs, can’t wait to be surprised on Tuesday, (or Monday if my pre-order arrives early, lol)
I’m guessing that what you said about Jessica’s album suffering by comparison could as easily apply to many Nashville-pop albums out there that pass for “country” nowadays.
Patty’s new album will be a deep, reviving breath of fresh air, I am sure.
-Steve from Boston
Jessica can’t hold a candle to Underwood, whats your beef with Carrie? There is nothing even remotley country about Jessica’s voice in these songs and IMO Jessica is soooooo fake it isn’t even funny. I also wouldn’t count on Underwoods fans running out and buying this album, they actually are fans of natural talent and humility, something Simpson lacks in every way.
Since when have I had a ‘beef’ with Carrie Underwood. I just happened to compare this Jessica Simpson record to her, that’s all…
I’m just a random poster checking out reviews on her new album. I saw her in concert at the Indiana State Fair, I personally thought the songs were catchy and her album was her best so far. She hasn’t had the best albums in the past but I have high hopes for “Do You Know”. So good luck Jessica!
The only song I’m interested in is the title track, just heard it on youtube, and I actually like it! But I will not be getting the album, that’s for sure. But I will buy the title track eventually.
Is it just me or does she look like she’s trying to win a Taylor Swift look-alike contest on the cover of this album?
People need to give Jessica a chance in country! I can’t believe that so many people read and actually believe all the trash in the tabloids! What it tells me is that most people are just stupid!! But back to Jessica’s music….this album is GREAT!!! I’ve heard the entire cd and there’s not one song that I don’t like!!! Whether people want to admit it or not, Jessica IS, IN FACT, a very good singer!!! Plus, she is so freakin’ sexy!!! Great country debut!! I dare the haters to listen to it!!!
Ted: I did listen to it, and it was a snoozefest. Even Dolly Parton couldn’t make the title track very interesting.
I have to agree with this review COMPLETELY. I heard the CD (thank you YouTube!) and the only song that was remotely decent was “Remember That.” It’s not that these songs were terrible, they were just plagued by one of two things.
1) The song lacked any sort of depth lyrically, leaving Jessica’s vocals to keep the track strong, which she failed to do. (Example: First single “Come On Over”)
2) Jessica tried oversinging the song and the ad-libs and random high-notes ruined the song because her voice thinned out/sounded breathy. (Example: Title track “Do You Know”)
The album is, overall, an average album (I’d say C-/D+) but it could’ve been a little better with better production and a better control of Jessica’s vocals.
Side note: Whoever compared her to Carrie Underwood is way off. This may be the fanboy within me, but I don’t see any NEW country singer with vocals even remotely as strong as Carrie’s (although I think Miranda Lambert is the closest one to her.) I don’t think Carrie fans will run to buy the album either, the tabloids are backfiring on her and making Carrie fans run the other way.
i listened to some and had to stop to me it all sounds the same as her horriblefailure of an attempt at pop, wiht the addition of a few traditional country instuments. there is a reason why she failed at pop music and it will be the same in country. she is just plain not a good singer, shouting lyrics is not singing. and she never truly does focus on the music it is alll about the fame and attention.
if you recap there is a pattern with her, couldn’t cut it in pop so she does a reality tv show for attention, divorces her husband and falls back in love announcing it to the world twice over, and when that attention fizzled, she thought she would take a crack at the fastest growing genre of music cause i predict she thought it would be easy. but you need the talent to have the staying power in country and she just doesn’t.
also i think it is a very sad attempt to sell records through the tabloids, just because herand carrie underwood dated the same person doesn’t mean there has to be drama surrounding cause everyone i’m sure knows that is what sells those mags (drama). my thought is there is a reason why you don’t hear a response on all the drama from CU and that is because she let’s her music speak for itself and let’s the gossip roll of her shoulder cause she clearly does not need that sort of attention, i must admire her poise and compsure during all the attacks on her i couldn’t stay quiet if it were me. if that is how JS wants to sell records i don’t think it will work. and yes her voice annot be compared to CU not in the same league.
Completely agree with your first two sentences. This horrible attempt at a country album is nothing but a last stitch effort to save a career that is long over. Pop is done with her and she is a terrible actress. The winded, breathy vocals on her first single sound no different than Brittany Spears. She is no where near ready to compete with the real women of country music (no, I am not referring to Taylor Swift in any form). Her interviews preceeding the release of this album are insincere and her statements deeming herself a true country girl are laughable. From the fake accent (which wasn’t present during her pop “career”) to her contrived and overly rehersed answers to interview questions…. She’s got a long way to go. But, she is a very cute girl, that I will concede.
I love Jessica Simpson. She is so excited being with Eric Johnson and it is wonderful that they are on a target of starting up a family. The couple are so much in love with each other. Goodluck!