What does it sound like?:
Melissa Jefferson is a bona fide star. A star of the sort that doesn’t need our affirmation, she’s already knows she’s special without our approval.
You can imagine, as some shabby karaoke night in Bath or Barry or Ballyfermot is reaching its desultory conclusion, a young lady steps up to the microphone and is just electrifying, commanding the stage with the same ferocity as if it were the biggest in the world. “Hmmm”, she thinks, “Why not the world?”
Lizzo has been occupying our peripheral attention over the last couple of years with some killer r n b /disco/nu soul/pop singles, but with this album she has placed herself front and centre and has made herself impossible to ignore.
And she’s doing it on her terms. Lizzo is what we nowadays call oversized. So here she is naked and proud on the album cover, and within the grooves preaching body positivity and self confidence. Stars, we know, love themselves. Lizzo admits as much in the future classic Soulmate (chorus: “I’m my own soulmate/ I know how to love me”), but Lizzo’s message is inclusive – she wants us to unlock our potential by loving ourselves too. On Like A Girl she reclaims the supposedly derogatory phrases “cry like a girl” and “fight like a girl”, while giving credit to those, such as Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan and Serena Williams whose achievements helped her to believe in herself.
Oh, She’s doing it on her own terms alright: opener and title track Cuz I Love You is the sort of barnstorming showstopper – complete with with Rock n Roll Suicide era Ner-Ner-Ner-Nerrrr guitars – that you save for later in the album, but, as exhibited by her throat-shredding vocal, the joy within can’t be contained another moment.
It’s not all brilliant; recent single Tempo, “the one I’ve been waiting for”, the syzygy of female forces that is her collaboration with Missy Elliott is a tad underwhelming and comes just after Crybaby, one of her lesser songs, which is just about carried by the force of her delivery.
But the rest is great – a succession of catchy party bangers stamped with Lizzo’s personality and wit (she’s not above co-opting George Bush’s favourite David Cop-A-Feel joke) ending with seductive ballad Lingerie.
And, if all that wasn’t enough, she goes all James Galway on us, getting her flute out for the delightful coda to Heaven Help Me.
What does it all *mean*?
Okay, six listens in, this might not be as great as the Jenny Lewis or Billie Eilish records, but Billie is a bit mopey and Jenny keeps banging on about the past.
With the sun blazing down on a bank holiday weekend, this is the one you want roaring out of your stereo.
Goes well with…
.. that Chaka Khan album you bought a couple of months back…
Might suit people who like…
Janelle Monáe, Beyoncé etc