Jem - Finally Woken

2006-03-30 01:49

Gallery: She's got the good looks to match her talent

Jem's pretty-but-punchy dance influenced production, strong pop tunes and intelligent lyrics earned her radio hits before she released the record. A hit all over the world, she's climbing the 5fm chart with her first single, "They".

Meaningful but pleasantly fluffy, Jem's pop melts in your mouth. It's packed with attractive tunes, but it's also designed for the thinking fan. Jem's charming good intentions are crystal clear from the first words of the opening hit track, which questions the status quo: "Who made up all the rules / We follow them like fools..."

Serious as the subject matter of a couple of the songs may be, any challenging emotions these tracks evoke is guaranteed to vanish in the warmth of the sunny hooks that surround any brief blues.

It's impossible not to think of Dido when you hear Jem, but she's no clone. Jem produces more of a dance / electronica sound, resulting in a lighter, speedier feel.

The soothing counterpoint of Jem's melodies, and the lush layers of Jem's pan-flute vocal tones are pleasant, generally. However, those not raised on a strict diet of radio pop might find her tone too sweet (and even insipid). There are moments of extreme immature platitudes: "It's just a ride, just a ride / No need to run, no need to hide", cheerily repeated for minutes without end - which can get a bit painful, like ice cream gulped down.

Nevertheless, Finally Woken is a rare find in the pop market. It's one of the few new releases that deserves to sell based on the single. If you're enjoying "They" on radio, expect very similar stuff throughout the rest of the album and you won't be disappointed. In fact, different songs from this album have simultaneously become hits in different countries, showing there's more than one chart-topping track on the CD.

- Jean Barker


Offering sunny pep talks over Dido-style tracks, she moves against the grain of alt-folk's melancholic reputation.
- Laura Sinagra for Rolling Stone

Jem knows her samples and trip-hop beats, but she also has a keen ear for a sweet pop hook.
- Adam Sweeting for The Guardian

Jem's finally singing her own songs and making her own fame, having written "Nothing Fails" for Madonna and worked as a DJ agent. Finally Woken is her debut album, which combines mainly late 70s soul influences into neo soul that also plays with the latest studio tech and also takes advantage of more recent R&B and hip hop trends.

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