Release Date: 03.02.04
Record label: Columbia
Droll and Unimaginative - Just Like Jessica Herself
by: dave davies
Before I get going on this review, I need to lay down a bit of groundwork. i.e. Jessica Simpson really seems to be as much of a dumb blonde as any sterotype has even inferred. Viewers of her and her husband (Nick Lachey)'s reality show must be watching it for laughs - because if anyone watches it another reason they must have a screw loose.
Now, whether or not this "dumb blonde" image I now have in my mind of Jessica Simpson (before this, I just didn't really care about her one way or another) has anything to do with my poor reception to this album, I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you, however, is that overall In This Skin is a pretty shoddy piece of work.
Just re-released as a "Special Edition" with two bonus tracks and an oh-so-worth-it (can you sense the sarcasm) bonus DVD with footage of Jessica and Nick's wedding and scenes from the first season of their Newlyweds MTV show, it's fairly obvious that this was an album put together with one goal: to ride the 15 minutes of fame Ms. Simpson is experiencing from unknowingly making a complete fool of herself for the world's pleasure.
But I digress, and should really focus on the album. Then again, I really don't want to talk about it, but even more so, I really don't want to keep listening to it to continue gathering my thoughts. So let's go... the album's opener (on this Special Edition) is a cover of Robbie Williams' classic ballad "Angels." One does have to give Kudos to Simpson for choosing to cover one of the best ballads from one of the best artists of her generation, but still it ends up as a bit of a disappointment. Nothing is really new or exciting here, sans the fact that she changed all instances of "she" to "he" and has some rather poor backup singing from producer/vocalist, billymann. What's more, the song's initial success for Williams was as much his performance as it was simply the fact that this rather manly, sarcastic man wrote and sang such a heartfelt piece. Coming from Simpson it sounds a bit more like adult contemporary filler. But what's even more unfortunate is that it's pretty much the album's high point.
Still, the single "With You" (the opener on the original pressing of this album, second track here) is a fairly decent, albeit clumsy and cliche' love song in today's standard pop/dance style. Written in part by Simpson herself, it's supposedly a song for her hubby Nick, and it does sound rather sweet in places. Totally disposable, but still sweet.
As for other "high" points... well there's a good rule to follow: pretty much anything that lists Jessica Simpson as a co-writer ("With You" aside) is fairly droll and disengaging. Lines like "I'm a lover of a soul / Deep inside this man that I know / I will give it all and let go" (from "My Way Home") bore rather than inspire, and sub-par production values just add extra weight to an already sinking ship.
Then again, when songs such as "Sweetest Sin" (by super-writer Diane Warren) and "I Have Loved You" (which sounds oddly familiar and even more oddly like a forgotten Shania Twain or Faith Hill crossover piece) do breathe a bit of fresh air into the album. The problem, however, is that they aren't really all that great on their own and tend to get by more on their comparison to the album's other songs than their own special qualities.
But by far the most shameful aspect of In This Skin is the title track itself. A rather shameless ripoff of Christina Aguilera's hit "Beautiful (well, Linda Perry's "Beautiful" if you want to be totally truthful), it wouldn't be a bad song... IF IT WASN'T JUST "BEAUTIFUL" WITH DIFFERENT WORDS! No one cares about Jessica Simpson's bouts of depression or lack of self-worth. Or at least I hope not.
There are much better things to worry about.. like when are they finally going to cancel Newlyweds? 24-Mar-2004 5:30 PM