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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March 2004, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Album review: Janet Jackson
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

"Relax, it's just sex," whispers a breathy Janet at the end of her song Sexhibition in a line that could serve as her post-Super Bowl manifesto.

Janet Jackson album cover
Jackson shows more flesh on the album cover

The baring of flesh that had middle America scrambling for its remote controls is, not surprisingly, still in evidence on the cover of her new album Damita Jo.

But the supposed corrupter of a nation's morals is replaced by a more wholesome image that seems to be pleading: "Look, I'm innocent."

Not a bejewelled nipple anywhere to be seen.

Send us your review

The music, though, soon reaffirms Jackson's racy credentials, woven together with an air of upfront sensuality and boudoir seduction.

Through producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis she has developed a classy contemporary sound, fusing elegant balladry with textbook MTV-friendly R&B groove.

The first half showcases her familiar minimal dancefloor funk, notably on Strawberry Bounce, My Baby featuring rapper Kanye West, All Nite (Don't Stop) and R&B Junkie.

Janet Jackson
Jackson's album combines upbeat R&B with moody introspection
Later, on tracks such as Thinkin' Bout My Ex, Warmth and the unsubtly-named Moist, she switches to reflective mode, dreamily accompanied by shimmering Rhodes keyboards and moody Moogs.

She is at her best on these rain-soaked tunes of longing and regret, recalling the smoky, late-night lovers' soul of Minnie Ripperton and Marvin Gaye or her brother's finer mellow moments.

Fans who favour the more upbeat side of her oeuvre may find the introspection becomes a little wearing after a while.

Still, it is an impressive collection of songs and an eloquent riposte to the knee-jerkers who said there was not much more to her than an exposed breast on live TV.

In an age when production pioneers like OutKast and The Neptunes are setting new sonic standards, Damita Jo confirms Jackson's continued status as serious rival to Beyonce, J-Lo and the rest.

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Has Janet Jackson proved she has still got what it takes? Can her career recover from the Super Bowl blunder?

Send us your views.

Usual "heavy" production sound from Janet. Not enough originality to match her last two studio albums though. Yet again she persists with the annoying monologues between tracks, trying to bond relate to us with dialogue more suited to a relaxation tape. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan - all be it a disappointed one.
Richard Doering, Surrey, UK

Ever since this album's predecessor Janet Jackson has shown very little of the artistic credibiltity she harboured thoughout the 90s.

I have always liked Janet, as a fan it's more disappointment than anything else but her music and image seem aimed at the Atomic Kitten market with her lyrical content breaking the trend, surely leaving her destined to fail.

She isn't talented "just like her brother Michael", she's talented just like Britney Spears.
Chris, Glasgow, Scotland

Janet has produced a great album She proves she still has what it takes and is still true to the legacy of the Jackson family as the reigning family of musicians of America. She is just like her brother, full of talent and great dance moves. In simple terms, Janet Jackson just rocks.
Hussein, Goshen IN USA

I'm afraid Ms Jackson should have given up on singing many years ago. What we have here is another very weak R&B album that fails to hit the mark. The amount of untalented American artists releasing this trash (rubbish) is past a joke, and the reason they get away with it is because people keep buying it. There are better artists and groups out there worthy of your support, they just take a bit of finding, so the sooner we all get a music education the sooner Janet Jackson will stop punishing my poor ear drums.
Nick Smith, Birmingham

I've heard several tracks from Janet's new CD, Damita Jo, and I can safely say that as a longtime fan this woman has grown in her music. It's not the same sugar coated pop from the likes of Britney or worn out remakes like J Lo, but fresh, adult R&B/dance music that we need so much these days. A sincere performer who loves what she does and is excellent at what she does.
Scott, Atlanta, US

Janet Jackson is just the best. All her albums have proved she has a lot of talent just like her brother Michael. I hope her new album does just as well as her old albums like Rhythm Nation and Velvet Rope.
DeLi Sumz, London

I'm positive Janet can recover from the Superbowl controversy. Her new album is great and reminds me a lot of the Janet album that got good feeback.
Corey, Lynchburg, VA

Janet has definitely got what it takes. The Superbowl has been blown all out of proportion - let's not forget Madonna's past effors to grab the headlines (far too many to count and too tacky to care about). Damita Jo is a superb album and a welcome return to form. The Queen of soft soul and funk (not r&b) is back and ready to kick some booty.
Keith Tomlinson, St Albans

Janet Jackson will definitely recover from this, she is a great singer and has a great attitude to her life and her fans. I am sure that we will see more of her in the next few years.
Kiran, London

I don't see why the Superbowl incident affects her career in anyway. It's not like she's a criminal. It's entertainment, pure and simple. The album's great, and she's a very talented artist, just like her brother Michael.
Tom, UK

Janet Jackson may have shown us a bejewelled nipple, which may or not be a wrong move, but her ability to write good and decent music will allow her to bounce back from it all.
Herbert, London, UK

Wow Someone has actually written a positive review of this album. Janet used to a contender now she tries too hard. This is not a good album and I fear you are getting blinded by her naked pictures on the cover. She once was great: 1993's Janet album and also Velvet Rope are both decent albums. This provides certainly no contention for any title apart from catch up. I really wanted to like it but Jam & Lewis have tried trciks above music. It sounds like too much production not enough songs!
Valentino Paggi, Monmouth

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