I absolutely loved this CD, and I shouldn't have, for reasons that should become obvious.
The CD is aptly named, as Jesse McCartney makes an unquestionable departure from his earlier offerings, and distances himself--perhaps permanently?--from the bubble gum world of Disney. (That's almost always a good thing, artistically.)
I didn't expect to like this CD. My only exposure to Jesse McCartney was "Beautiful Soul", a song I happened upon recently, and enjoyed immensely. I was surprised when I downloaded "Leavin'", and liked it, as it had a distinct hip-hop flavor (although still subtly infused with pop), and I've never been a fan of hip-hop. Perhaps I'm getting too old. My grandparents thought Elvis Presley was the devil, I thought he was the King of Rock and Roll, so...I don't know. After hearing "Leavin'" a few times, I liked it, a lot. Then I did something I knew I shouldn't: I looked up the lyrics.
I'm hard of hearing, so lyrics aren't always a big part of a song for me. I hear the music first, and discern the lyrics later, if ever. The lyrics to "Leavin'" were-- peculiar. Perhaps it's an age thing again, but much of the lyrics were incomprehensible to me. And that's when I had a copy of them to read along with the music.
(Before I go here, remember that I'm giving the CD a 5-star review...)
"Hey baby girl, I've been watching you all day (all day x3)
Man that thing you got behind you is amazing (amazing x3)
You make me want to take you out and let it rain (let it rain x3)
I know you got a man but this is what you should say"
So, if I understand this correctly, the girl has a great, *cough*, rear-end, and that makes him want to take her out and "let it rain". I get the great rear-end part, but "let it rain"? I have no clue.
When I was a teen, I swore I would never outgrow music as my parents had done. I would be one of those cool DJs who, at 65, were spinning today's records on AM stations (this was the early 80s), and liking what they heard. That hasn't happened.
But it did happen *here*. Other parts of the CD are much more hip-hop than "Leavin'", and I liked some of them better. All of the songs are strong, and if it were my choice, I'd have had a difficult time picking the first single. And Jesse's voice is terrific all the way through. On earlier offerings, it's sounded strained in places. He's obviously put some work in, vocally.
This is a 5-star review from someone who really shouldn't have liked the CD. I doubt anyone reading these reviews will be anything other than "JesseMac" fans, but for the odd chance that you're reading this and you hate "JesseMac", and you hate hip-hop, and for some reason you're wondering whether to give this a listen, I say YES. Give it a listen. It's incredibly mature music (note that I said music, and not lyrics--that's not age; I'm a writer, and things need to make sense, even lyrics to hip-hop songs).
Some have said that he's a sell-out for changing his style. Maybe he is. I would argue, however, that he isn't. He's 21 years old, so it's impossible for him to have cemented a style. Moreover, this is the first CD that he's had as much of a hand in writing and producing. He certainly sounds likes he's having fun. Who's to judge?
Also, btw - KUDOS to him for not having a Zac Efron look-alike "emo" haircut. Every "tween" looks exactly the same these days, because they have the same hairstyle. (This, of course, has nothing to do with his music. Still. Nice to see that he's taking risks.)