Actresses who try their hand at singing has always been a fascination of mine. Most of the time, they do a very average, verging on sub-par job ... Alyssa Milano's musical efforts, anyone?? ... and they all seem to go for the terrible, bubblegum pop "Hit Factory" sound. Puh-lease. The majority of these so-called "singers" are probably handed B-side material from established acts and jump around with joy, thinking these so-called "songs" are incredible. I'm not sure what's more unfortunate, that, or the fact that record company executives actually think they'll be a success with sub-par vocal ability and sub-par material...
Anyway, I digress. Knowing my love of actresses-turned-singers ... rather like looking at roadkill, you know it's gonna be icky and make you wanna puke, but you just can't help yourself ... I was very surprised when, in 1998, I saw Jennifer Love Hewitt's two mainstream albums in my local record shop. I had been rather impressed with her soft rock / pop effort "How Do I Deal", and figured that the albums would be just as good. Well, perhaps they weren't quite as good as the afore-mentioned hit, but they were surprisingly good. Her first album, 1995's "Let's Go Bang", is a fairly patchy work ... some great songs (namely "You Make Me Smile" and "The Difference Between Us"), some reasonable ones ("Let's Go Bang" and "In Another Life"), and some absolute clunkers (her diabolical cover of David Gates' "I'm A Want You", being the main offender). On her second album, though, she seemed far more relaxed. "Jennifer Love Hewitt" offered Jennifer material which not only suited but enhanced her vocal abilities. She's quite a natural singer, but the jazz / bluesy sound of "Let's Go Bang" really didn't suit her ... on "Jennifer Love Hewitt", there is a far mellower vibe, offering light breezy pop tunes with a little touch of R'n'B.
The best tracks are the single "I Believe" ... an almost indie vibe happening here ... the "so commercial it hurts" pop tune "Never A Day Goes By" (in its original and acoustic forms), the gorgeous acoustic track "Cool With You", and the Deborah Cox-penned "No Ordinary Love" (how did JLH afford Deborah Cox?!) Also notable is the smoochy ballad "I Always Was Your Girl" and my personal favourite, "Don't Push The River" (great message here, if you're into that sorta thing). There are a few flaws with the album, mind you ... on first listen, many of the songs sound the same and seem to meld together, but after a while the songs really realise their own identities. Also, whoever told Jen to cover the Bee Gees' "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away" was quite brave; she pulls it off, adding a sort of R'n'B vibe to it, but honestly, that was a fairly big risk to take!
Overall, "Jennifer Love Hewitt" is a great CD. It's, in fact, my "I'm stressed, I need some downtime just to pleb out and replenish my mind" CD ... very calming. Soulful, mature, and far better than anyone has given her credit for. After listening to this album, Jennifer comes out relatively unscathed ... and so does the listener.