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|7. My Baby|
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|12. Not Your Enemy|
2008 album from the teen dream, who is now all grown up. Departure is a more mature 'departure' for McCartney, whose multi-platinum 2004 debut album Beautiful Soul launched his career as an international singing star. With star writers and hit making producers such as Sean Garrett (Usher, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Pussycat Dolls, Chris Brown), Tricky & The-Dream (Rihanna, Mariah Carey), J.R. Rotem (Britney Spears, Sean Kingston, 50 Cent, Rihanna) and The Clutch (Omarion, Timbaland, Ciara, Bobby Valentino), Departure has an edgier Pop/Urban sound than Beautiful Soul and Jesse's sophomore album, 2006's Right Where You Want Me reflecting Jesse's growth as a songwriter and young man. 12 tracks in all.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.)
Departure is quite a change in direction from Jesse's last studio album, 2006's "Right Where You Want Me." Moving away from the rock-lite direction he'd moved into after his "Beautiful Soul" album and into a more Pop/R&B direction akin to Justin Timberlake.
The result is good, I didn't like "Right Where You Want Me" as much as I liked "Beautiful Soul," his 2004 debut solo record. The opening track "Leavin'" makes me want to drag myself to the dance floor for a slow groove and doesn't stray much further from the dance floor after that.
The highlight, for me, of the Japanese edition is his cover (even though he did write it, and presumably made a demo of the track) of "Bleeding Love." "Bleeding Love" was a massive worldwide #1 single for X-Factor winner Leona Lewis, and Jesse doesn't try to compete with Leona's powerful version. Instead, his version is stripped down, and highlights Jesse's voice, which sometimes gets lost in the production of some of the other tracks on this album.
This is the track list for the Japanese version of "Departure":
02. It's Over
03. Rock You [Feat. Sean Garrett]
04. How Do You Sleep
05. Into Ya
06. Make Up
07. My Baby
08. Told You So
12. Not Your Enemy
13. Oxygen [Japanese Bonus Track]
14. Bleeding Love [Japanese Bonus Track]
15. Leavin' (The Bimbo Remix Edit) [Japanese Bonus Track]
16. Leavin' (JFK MSTRKRFT Remix) [Japanese Bonus Track]
There's no doubt that the guy can sing but the album does nothing to prove that he'll have any longevity in today's music scene. The title is deceptive. There's no departure here - there's nothing on offer that can't be generated by every other act today, there's no departure from the flash in the pan appearance of his debut release and there's certainly no departure from blending in with what's currently getting airplay.
He does try his hardest though. He even tries some pop/hip-hop stylings with Rock You featuring Sean Garrett, who has written for everyone who is anyone and has produced more than a few of the tracks. It's a bit bland and it will disappear from your memory before the next song is half over. He does, however, do a better than expected version of Bleeding Love which was penned by himself and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic fame. His attempt has honesty that you can't find on any of the other tracks on the album. Sadly though, next to Leona Lewis, his version pales in comparison.
Overall, the album is full of the fluff and disposable radio fodder with nothing that will make you want to hit the back button. It's great background music if you're having a lazy afternoon with friends. It's simple, it doesn't require thought and if you have teenage sisters, it'll make a great gift - they'll swoon over it. My sisters love me now.
Granted, his previous efforts weren't half bad, I'd even say they were underrated, however, this one is a real "departure".
It could have easily turned out to be a desperate JT wannabe's pale copy of Justified. Only it isn't. With the smash hit "Bleeding Love" sung by Leona Lewis, McCartney has already proven himself as a mature writer to critics. His own record, however, the third album "Departure", will really surprise the audience.
The first single "Leavin'" was an excellent choice as it really bridges the gap between pretty boy Jesse and the new, 21 year old R&B singer. With amazing club remixes (the Ralphi Rosario Club Mix in particular) and a killer acoustic version recorded for KISS FM proving McCartney's vocal skills, the song is a solid Billboard Top10 hit.
"Leavin'", however is by far not the only excellent track on the new album. In fact, almost all the tracks have the potential to appeal to different types of people.
The ones that stand out for me personally are songs like "Rock You", which will make the casual fan check the CD cover twice as they will simply not believe they are listening to a Jesse McCartney album. The shock will only be a positive one, though, as Jesse and Sean Garret sell the song as good as anyone could. It is a smash hit.
The almost boybandish (think *N Sync 2008) "How Do You Sleep" with a catchy chorus you'll find yourself humming all day long, is the ultimate "guilty pleasure" on the CD. Rumor has it, it might even be the next single.
"My Baby" is one of McCartney's personal favorites and, although I find it slightly boring, there is a certain flow to the song that makes it worth checking out. It is also one of the most "Justin-like" tracks, but again, it never feels like a cheap copy.
"Relapse" is another surprising song which is not too complex or sophisticated, yet has a certain mood to it, with a midtempo beat that makes it very enjoyable.
"Runnin'" is one of the highlights of "Departure". It is a very well written and performed midtempo song which begs for the "repeat track" function on your mp3 player.
The track that amazed me the most, however, is the one I consider McCartney's best work ever. If he has the guts, he simply has to release "Make Up" as the next single. Granted, this will cause the most controversy and might be too much for the screaming 13 year old "Beautiful Soul" fans. However with the steamy/cheeky lyrics, the irresistible beat fueled by the background vocals ("Uh-hey"), the killer base and the sexy Brazilian chick whispering, this flawlessly produced Kwame club-banger could establish McCartney as the coolest thing since sliced bread. Warning: the song is massively addictive!
Altogether, even with its weaker tracks, McCartney's third album gets a solid "A" on my chart. The only question is, will the media, the market, the fans allow Jesse to grow up. Will people be open enough to give it a try and listen to the album with an open mind forgetting (forgiving?) the blond-dyed Disney-boy past.
If so, Justin Timberlake will have to watch his "sexy back". McCartney ain't "leavin", he's about to "rock you".