After being silenced for over a decade, JoJo is back with a fresh new sound that shows her returning to her R&B roots. Her brand new album “good to know” is a funky blend of soulful melodies, vibrant rhythmic patterns, atmospheric synthesizers, and iconic vocal runs.
JoJo has the type of voice that only comes once in a generation. Her vocal abilities have been praised by legends like Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, and Mariah Carey. After being caught in a legal battle with her old label, Blackground Records–the same label Aaliyah was signed to–she continued to tour and release mixtapes. When she made her big return in 2016 with the record “Mad Love,” it was a double-edged sword because she didn’t have the creative liberty to make the record that she wanted. Now that she has finally been granted that freedom, there’s nothing stopping JoJo from dominating her own vision.
JoJo approached this album from a very different angle than her previous works. After abstaining from relationships, meditating on her current state, and traveling the world, her most cohesive body of work has come to fruition on “good to know,” and it was well worth the wait.
JoJo launches into the album full-force, showcasing her vocal prowess with sensual spoken-word patterns and drawn out syllables on tracks like “So Bad,” and “Gold,” and even rapping a few verses on “Comeback,” a song about being caught in the throes of passion with a lover, with a raunchy verse from Canadian rapper Tory Lanez. “Pedialyte” is an infectious earworm about hangovers with rippling idiophonic production in the background that sounds like a cluster of wind chimes clanging to tempo.
JoJo also explores themes like shame, desire, sexuality, ending relationships, and reclaiming her self-worth on the record with tracks like “Man,” “Lonely Hearts,” and “Think About You,” which touch on the universal struggles of learning to be alone in the aftermath of breakups and casual sex (“How can I work on me/If I’m working on your body”). The “Man” music video celebrates independence and subverts the song title with a cast of all women, showing JoJo on a getaway vacation with her friends, including Ari Lennox and Tinashe.
“Small Things” consists of an emotionally-charged melody with shades of Tori Kelly and Frank Ocean. The stripped-back acoustic instrumentation allows JoJo to show off her unique vocal runs and her ability to belt in her upper register, which is where she truly shines, as anybody would remember from the unforgettable climax of her 2007 pop-rock hit “Too Little Too Late.”
JoJo’s strengths may not lie in the lyrical department, but her impeccable voice and the emotional core of her work more than make up for it. With her newfound free spirit and years of fighting for creative agency over her work, “good to know” is the product of a woman who has been down in the trenches, dug her way out, and is rightfully reclaiming her throne.