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Down to Earth

Jem

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Album Review

Is Jem a club-ready electronica chanteuse or an easygoing adult contemporary artist? It's difficult to tell on Down to Earth, which furthers the dual personality first shown on Jem's 2004 debut. The refusal to settle on one style often serves Jem well, however, and Down to Earth features a bevy of producers who lend their unique approach to each track. Having created diverse sonic stews for Lily Allen and Kylie Minogue — not to mention his own project, the Bird and the Bee — Greg Kurstin stops by to helm "Aciiid!," a synth-driven dance track sung partially in Japanese. Elsewhere, hip-hop producer Jeff Bass (who, along with his brother, helped launch Eminem's career) mashes banjo riffs with funk horns on "Crazy," and Lester Mendez (famous for his work with such Latin artists as Santana, Shakira, and Nelly Furtado) employs spoken word samples from West Side Story during the Spanish-tinged "I Want You To...." Those energetic tracks are some of the album's highlights, but they go head to head with songs like "Got It Good," "And So I Pray," and "On Top of the World," all of which are the stuff of lite FM radio stations. Ultimately, the eclecticism shown within Jem's songs may well be a detriment to the album as a whole, since Down to Earth's mix of producers and genres lacks cohesion. It's also worth noting that nothing here is as immediately ingratiating as "They," and while "It's Amazing" (another Mendez vehicle) does feature a similar chorus — complete with descending minor chords and repeated iterations of the title — it can't match the original's spunk and spark. Down to Earth's title depicts Jem as a grounded musician, but its wide-ranging sound suggests something different, as the singer has yet to find a style that fully suits her capabilities. Fortunately, her search for the perfect genre still yields some enjoyable songs, as shown by this album's handful of standout tracks.

Customer Reviews

O..M..G

I have pandora to thank for finding Jem. I had never heard of her and one day a song came on my pandora station and i started dancing. And i don't dance..like, ever. So of course I had to find out who this amzing artist was and a chain of events led me here. This album is amazing. I could listen to every single one of the songs on repeat for hours. DEFINATELY recomend this to anybody thinking about buying.

Jen is awesome!

I have been a fan of Jem's since 2004! She always has great catchy songs, i was hesitant to buy the 2008 album because i was sure it would not stand up to some of my favorite songs of hers, i was pleased to hear she didn't change and the songs are just as good! I would totally recommend this if you liked her first album!

Another "Jem"

Great album of catchy songs, but there are still so many layers to each song that they warrant deeper listening.

Biography

Born: May 18, 1975 in Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Before she straddled the border between electronica and pop/rock with songs like "They," Jem Griffiths began the roundabout road to songstress stardom in Cardiff, Wales, where the singer was born and raised. She later attended Sussex University, balancing her course work with an emerging interest in music. Although still enrolled at Sussex, Griffiths became a talent scout for local DJs and helped promote the city's club events; she also helped launch the electronica imprint Marine Parade while rubbing...
Full Bio
Down to Earth, Jem
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