Music Review: Janet Jackson, don't you ever leave us again

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Posted: Oct 02, 2015 2:07 PM
Music Review: Janet Jackson, don't you ever leave us again

Janet Jackson, "Unbreakable" (BMG/Rhythm Nation Records)

"It was in summer that you left me, the fall and winter never felt so cold, and Lord knows words can never express it, life feels so empty I miss you much," Janet Jackson sings about her late brother, Michael Jackson.

"Painful tears like never before, we can't laugh together till we cry, but our love ain't no material thing, Insha'Allah, see you in the next life," she continues in her signature soft tone.

"Broken Hearts Heal" is a perfect example of Jackson's musical prowess: The song's beat is so feel-good, breezy and bouncy that you must dance, but her lyrics are touching, and in this particular song, heart-wrenching as she highlights her relationship, even as kids doing chores, with the King of Pop.

You might cry.

And that's exactly it: Jackson's album, "Unbreakable," is a reminder that dance music is more than fast, loud electronic beats pounding to the floor. EDM creators and its admirers, take note.

This 17-track set, which has Jackson reuniting with longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, is full of soulful, electro and addictive tracks that will make your head bop or vogue — and make your brain think.

On the downbeat and introspective "Black Eagle," Jackson gets political, singing about those who are overlooked and judged.

"I'm singing this love song to show my support, to the beautiful people who have been ignored, with blind eyes and cold showers attacking them, invisible people they won't let fit in," she sings. "Because every life matters — we all need to do better."

Jackson isn't always serious, and "Unbreakable" is a balanced adventure: "Dammn Baby," which samples a line from her late '90s hit "I Get Lonely," has a semi-trap sound that is a winner; Missy Elliott brings the heat on the fun "BURNITUP!"; and "Night" is a house and trance anthem.

The album's first single, "No Sleeep," is a sexy R&B number and on "2 B Loved," which features a classic Jackson hook, she's a confident independent woman in love.

"You see I'm not the kind of girl you got to babysit, no, no, if you have things to do, I understand," she sings, most likely about her beau.

And while "Unbreakable" has some B-level tracks — including "Take Me Away" and "Gon' B Alright" — the album is a reminder that Jackson is one icon who hasn't lost a beat. That's the way real music goes.

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