JoJo–Mad Love.

Rating 6/7

She’s back. Childhood pop star, JoJo, has returned to the music scene after a decade-long battle from the clutches of a seven-year contract with Blackground records that prevented her from releasing new material. Some might remember JoJo as the mermaid’s friend in the movie, Aquamarine…hey, I’m not judging! However, I suppose most remember her as the singer of smash R&B hit, “Leave (Get Out),” released in 2004 when she was just 13 years old. JoJo became the youngest artist to ever have a number one single on the Billboard mainstream Top 40 chart; and now under contract with Atlantic, she is likely on the road to further recognition with the recent release of Mad Love. The album, ten years in the making, was released October 14.

Mad Love., in its entirety, is a well-produced R&B album that was well worth the wait. It’s a good mix of meaningful content (“Music.” and “Reckless.”) and catchy club tracks (“Vibe.” and “Good Thing.”) that runs through your head hours and even days later. JoJo addresses emotional topics including the recent death of her father, the strain of her career, labors of love, addiction and depression. Truly, an eight-year contract debate seems to have had a positive effect on her career, allowing time to mature, gain life experience, and hone her craft in preparation for this particularly solid album.

The track that shook me on first impression and became my uncontested favorite is the album opener, a heartfelt ballad entitled “Music.” The piece is drastically simple and distant from the dance-pop vibe of the rest of the release. It pushes away the distraction of heavy production and focuses in on a basic piano accompaniment, highlighting JoJo’s immense vocal ability that originally accounted for her success. The touching lyrical confession of her passion for music couldn’t be a more fitting way to return to the industry and kick off her Atlantic debut. It’s a clear statement that she’s no longer a little girl stuck in the spotlight. JoJo is all grown up and she’s a star.