Janet Jackson is back! After seven years, Ms. Jackson is bringing us new music with her 11th studio album, Unbreakable. Not only has she made return to music, but she has also reunited with long time collaborators and producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The trinity of Jackson, Jam, and Lewis have been creating magic for over two decades. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis have produced and written Janet Jackson’s most notable records since the start of her career with her breakout album, Control in 1989. After the release of her 2008 album Discipline, Janet has taken some time away from the music scene. During the seven years, Janet starred in the sequel Why Did I Get Married Too?, headlined her Up Close and Personal Tour, and in 2009 she lost her brother, Michael Jackson. Through those seven years, Janet fans have been awaiting her return. She surprised on May 16, 2015, Her 49th birthday, when she announced her return to music. In the video, she states, “I’ve been listening.” After listening to Unbreakable, Janet has had her ear in many places and opens up about what she’s been hearing over the years.
Janet Jackson opens up her 11th studio album with the title track, “Unbreakable.” The song is about the bond with her family and friends. Janet has had a long, well-deserved career. She has overcome barriers as a woman in music, and as a black woman in music. Janet has been able to stand on her own, even with the “Jackson” name behind her. Janet is unbreakable.
We applaud Janet in her vocal demonstration on this record. Unbreakable features Janet’s best vocals to date. In the first four tracks, Janet sings differently in each track and shows her growth as a singer. She also explores many genres on this album. The third track “Dammn Baby,” is new for Ms. Jackson, but it works. “Dammn Baby” is current, it’s fresh and funky. Janet surprises fans by interposing Velvet Ropes “I Get So Lonely” in the breakdown of the track. Then as soon as the next track “The Great Forever” starts, Janet changes it up, yet again. In the first four tracks, Janet is showing her versatility in her voice. “The Great Forever” reminds us of Michael Jackson, this song is one that we could see “The King of Pop” writing and singing.
Unbreakable represents resiliency; Janet has experienced some of her hardest experiences over the past seven years, and this world has also experienced some tough realities and Unbreakable touches on hurt, but focuses on channeling those set backs and heart breaks into happiness and action. With the tracks “Shoulda Known Better,” “After You Fall,” “Dream Maker/Euphoria,” “Black Eagle,” Lesson Learned,” “Well Traveled,” and “Gon’ Be Alright,” a majority of the record is a diary of what Janet has experienced and seen, but in the end finds the happiness within and believes everything is going to be alright.
Janet uses music to talk to her fans about what is going on in her life. Ms. Jackson sings a track entitled “Broken Hearts Heal,” that reflects on her and her brother Michael Jackson. The lyrics take you back to your own childhood.
“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 so much
Painful tears like never before
We can’t laugh together till we cry
But our love’s ain’t no material thing…
Broken Hearts Heal”
The song is an emotional journey. The production is uplifting and will make you smile, yet the lyrics are honest and paint a picture of Janet’s love for her brother, Michael Jackson.
While Unbreakable features many tracks of resiliency and overcoming obstacles, Janet does not forget to incorporate her signature dance tracks that her fans and listeners have come to love from her. She recently released the hip-hop inspired dance track “BURNITUP!” featuring Missy Elliott. While we wish Missy Elliott’s versus contained more of her rapping, Janet does a perfect job at getting the party started with this track. She also has another dance track on her album, “Night.” Music & Other Drugs is in love with this track. While it was written and produced by Janet, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis, we can’t but help feel the Disclosure vibes this track is giving off. Another favorite of Music & Other Drugs is “Take Me Away.” This folk-dance track has a heavy instrumentation in its production is signature Janet. The guitar solo at the end adds to the musicality of this record. Janet is here to inspire, and this record will truly take you away to a “better” place.
One thing we noticed is that this album does not have many interludes as her past records; however, the ones she placed on the album are intentional and perfection. “Promise” is 58 seconds, and shows Janet getting personal in this Sadè-like record. This is one track we wish was a full song, but the track does its job in 58 seconds.
Unbreakable represents Janet’s self exploration. Ms. Jackson has grown in the past seven years. It is important to note that Unbreakable is released under her independent record label, Rhythm Nation Records. Overall, Music & Other Drugs supports and believes this is a beautiful body of work in its entirety. Janet fans will appreciate and love this record. She has some hidden gems throughout the records that only true Janet fans will be able to catch on to. Janet said, “Themes of the album are about where we stand today as individuals and as the inter-related elements of a planet.” She speaks about our connection to one another and this world. The records focus on humanity and doing right to yourself and to others. It is important to listen to this record from start to finish. When Janet first released “No Sleeep,” “Unbreakable,” and “BURNITUP!,” we at Music & Other Drugs knew that all of the songs fit in a greater scheme, her entire record. In a musical age that is so singles driven, Janet’s album is one that must be digested in full. She is serving 17-courses that cannot be missed. In the end, Janet let’s us know that she is living her life and has experienced so much in “Well Traveled,” and shares a message to us that everything is “Gon’ Be Alright.” We applaud Ms. Jackson for being so personal in Unbreakable. Music & Other Drugs is excited to see Ms. Jackson on the Unbreakable World Tour. You can check out tour dates here. While you wait for the tour to hit your city, pre-order Janet’s 11th studio album, which is out now, on iTunes. Stream below on Spotify.