Let's get this out of the way. Jordin Sparks can indeed sing, and the time between her debut album and Battlefield has seen her voice take on more mature depth and coloration. That is great, but she is still a singer who lives and dies by the songwriting and production of her collaborators. There are plenty of great moments here, but too much filler as well. If this album gives any clue, Jordin Sparks is far from her peak, but she is an artist well worth following as she develops.
No Doubt in Jordin Sparks' Power to Carry a Song
Listening to this album it truly does sound like Jordin Sparks experiences love as a battlefield. The album is loaded with songs of failed relationships and all the pain that follows in their wake. When she gets the chance to wrap her vocals around a solid song on the topic, pardon the expression, but the sparks really fly. Artistically, the title song "Battlefield" is one of the top pop singles of the year so far. On "Walking On Snow" she delivers the words of independence with breezy sass and swagger projecting a breathless maturity. On "No Parade" her heart is breaking, but she looks forward to the future with a strong, husky undertone.
Too Much Production In the Way
One of the hazards of creating an album with a parade of producers instead of one or two behind the boards, is all engage in the effort to create the top song in the collection. Often, as here, it leads to too many of the songs being overproduced and sounding as if they are jostling for attention with the other tunes. The reworking of Shannon's classic "Let the Music Play" into "S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)" must have sounded great on paper particularly when you toss in the Lady GaGa synths. However, it mostly just serves to show that over-produced dance music where the singer apes Rihanna easily turns into a tedious mess. "Let It Rain" kicks off with church organ and solemn vocals and eventually simply drowns in its heavy rock guitar and churchy vocal effects.
Top Tracks on 'Battlefield'
- "Walking On Snow"
- "Watch You Go"
- "No Parade"
Stepping Out of the American Idol Shadow
In many places on Battlefield Jordin Sparks takes significant steps out of the American Idol shadow. However, she has not shaken it off yet. That is particularly obvious when it feels like she is shadowing the footsteps of fellow AI champion Kelly Clarkson. "Emergency (911)" in particular kicks off like "I Do Not Hook Up" part two. When she drops the Rihanna wannabe stance, Jordin Sparks is a quality pop vocalist. Note to future collaborators, let Jordin Sparks stand alone with her own style and dig her teeth into a quality song. Stand back and "you better go and get your armor."
Released July 2009 by Jive Records