On her sterling new Columbia Records collection, Irresistible
, Jessica Simpson delivers an important message: She's a young woman now.
The pop ingénue who made waves in 1999 with her powerhouse debut, Sweet Kisses, says that she's done quite a bit of growing up over the past three years--and it's vividly illustrated in her music.
"I was 17 when I recorded Sweet Kisses, and now I'm 21. I'm so proud of what I've accomplished so far," she notes, reflecting a track record that includes the smash hits "I Wanna Love You Forever," "Where You Are," and "I Think I'm In Love With You." "But that period between albums provided a lot of emotional and spiritual discovery for me. During that time, I also got in close touch with who I want to be as an artist. You can hear that on this new album."
Collaborating with a stellar cast of performers, producers, and writers including Columbia labelmate Marc Anthony, Nick Lachey of 98°, Walter Afanasieff (Celine Dion), and Cory Rooney (Jennifer Lopez). Irresistible
shows Jessica boldly travelling down several fresh new musical avenues. In addition to offering more of the lush, passionate ballads that have become her signature, she has effectively expanded her creative palette to include ebullient rhythm-pop and sultry R&B--gliding through a collection of funk-fortified grooves and sophisticated contemporary ballads with the finesse and confidence of a seasoned performer.
"That's what I really wanted to come across on these songs... confidence," Jessica notes. "I wanted to show that with that inner strength and inner light, nothing is impossible."
The singer is also out to prove that confidence can be sexy. Case in point, the album's title cut and first single, a percussive shuffler that smolders without stepping over the line of what Jessica deems as good taste. "You have to have boundaries," she asserts. "I'm trying to give an image of a young confident woman on that song, as well as on the rest of the album."
That confidence shines through on "A Little Bit," the second single from Irresistible
, which finds Jessica boldly declaring her love and her needs while underscoring the fact that she will not be taken for granted and will settle for nothing less than mutual understanding when conflict arises. "We can work it out together," she sings. "A little less talk, a little more do, a little more me, a little less you, baby, at the end of the day, a little bit goes a long way."
Though some might find her style provocative, Jessica's allure goes beyond the physical. "That's not what's sexy about me," she adds with a smile. "I believe that my soul and my faith are what's sexy about me. It's all about what's inside."
That said, Jessica admits that she does occasionally enjoy flexing a little external heat... even if it's completely innocent. "There's a cut on the album, 'Hot Like Fire,' that I think will take people by surprise," she says of the self-assured hip-hop-flavored cut produced by Cory Rooney. "It's a hardcore 'attitude' song. You might not even recognize my voice at first. It's totally raw and intense. It's a shake-your-hips kind of song. I love it."
While the young artist enjoyed the process of experimentation while recording Irresistible
, she was equally pleased to perform stately ballads like "To Fall In Love Again" and "There You Were," on which she duets with Marc Anthony. Jessica says cutting the latter tune was "an experience unlike any other."
"His voice is amazing, but the best thing about him is his passion," she beams, remembering the day they met in the studio. "He sat me down and said, 'For the next six hours, I'm going to be in love with you. I work on my songs like movie scripts.' And from there, he made up a complete relationship between our two characters."
As a result, Jessica believes that "you can feel the love in the song. The connection we had in the studio was incredible."
However, the song on Irresistible
that most reflects Jessica's true spirit is "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," a gospel standard that she has been singing since she was a young girl in church.
"My relationship with God is the most intimate in my life, and it always will be," she shares. "I wanted to give my fans something special about that."
Recording that song was a trip back to Jessica's roots, as she began her career as a gospel singer. "It's taken me to where I am today," the Dallas native says, recalling that one of her gospel performances first drew the attention of Columbia Records. "And it's the music that means the most to me--particularly 'His Eye Is On The Sparrow.' It's about all of the discouragement in life, and how none of it is very important in the grand scheme of things because we are all ultimately free and capable of being happy. I know that's true for me. I sing because I'm happy. And I sing because I'm free. I want to share that with my fans."
And Jessica's relationship with her fans is of tremendous importance to her. "They keep me going. They inspire me. I do all I can to keep in close touch with the fans who support my music--whether it be via my shows or on the Internet. The energy I get from them is extraordinary."
That energy is just as vital to Jessica as the support she derives from her friends and family. "You have to have a support team around you. My best friends are on the road with me, and I hold my family close to me. If you don't surround yourself with good people, then you have nothing to artistselop character from."
In the end, it's the strength of character that is propelling Jessica Simpson to immeasurable pop music heights. She's more than merely Irresistible
... she's unstoppable.
-from the official Jessica Simpson website
--- from the official Jessica Simpson website