Grammy nominee and platinum recording artist, Jo Dee Messina, has returned to the forefront of country music with a brand new project that cannot be overlooked. Despite parting ways from her former record label, the hardworking singer, songwriter, wife, mother of two, and devoted daughter grabbed the reins of her destiny and decided it was time to dictate her own future. After pouring herself and every fiber of her being into creating new music, her album, Me, was born. Last week was the release of Me, and we have twelve reasons why you should add this album to your collections immediately.
1. “Not Dead Yet” is a track that starts the album off with a bang, as it sends a very important message to country music fans. That message is that Jo Dee is still here and she is ready to remind you why she was nominated for two Grammys and is a chart-topping hit-maker! Regardless of the hard times Jo Dee faced with her former record label, this bold, confident, talented artist hasn’t let it get the best of her. Instead, she barreled through the difficulties and forged her own path. This song informs those who doubted Jo Dee’s abilities to succeed on her own just how very wrong they were. In this song of art imitating life, Jo Dee quips (likely aimed toward her former label) that she will not allow anybody to take her down, as she has enough life left in her to create her own destiny.
2. “Strong Shot of You” may have lyrics that are classified as “typical country;” however, the song itself is anything but. “Strong Shot of You” actually trades in the booze for a man, as Jo Dee orders up “those burnin’ kisses that go down easy” and “a hit of your love, just a little buzz in your ninety proof” from her bartender. While Jo Dee sings about how tipsy she already is from this man’s kind of lovin’, she certainly does not shy away from placing the order again … and again. This song is one that you will blast as you are getting ready to go out for a night on the town. This track stands out from the rest of the album, as it borders the more modern country rock that is so prevalent on today’s radio while maintaining Jo Dee’s signature sound.
3. “Love on a Maybe” slows things down a bit … until the chorus, where you can’t help but bob your head and dance to the beat. When I heard the lyrics to this song, I said out loud to my co-worker, “ugh, sounds like my life!” and I am confident that many of you out there will relate. “Love on a Maybe” tells the story of a relationship where, every time they get close, the man pulls away and leaves her wondering where exactly they stand. Then, without fail, he comes back around as if he never strayed. In this song, Jo Dee finally puts her foot down and tells him that the back and forth needs to stop and he is either in or out, and if he’s in, it is about time he proves it! This song exudes independence and confidence and attempts to dissuade women from allowing the uncertainty of men’s minds to control their hearts.
4. “Breakin’ It Down” demonstrates that Jo Dee is a sassy powerhouse who makes every word she utters believable. This is a song about a relationship where there seems to be a communication disconnect and, no matter how much the woman tries to explain to the man exactly what she needs from him, he just doesn’t seem to understand. Ultimately, the woman reaches her breaking point, can’t continue to fight so hard for her happiness in the relationship, and opts to walk away. Or, in alternate meaning, some might say this could be a message from Jo Dee to her former record label … Jo Dee’s vocals on this track will take you back to the beginning when you first heard and fell in love with her. It is my prediction that this song will be a crowd favorite when Jo Dee takes her new music out on the road for her adoring fans.
5. “Peace Sign,” the lead single off Me, is a quirky, tongue-in-cheek song about being blindsided with a breakup when you thought the relationship was on the right track. This song exemplifies Jo Dee’s precious personality and fun-loving sense of humor, while proving that the Grammy nominee still has “it.” This song is indicative of what I have been saying since the day I first heard Me from beginning to end — Jo Dee is back with a vengeance … and an album to back it up.
6. “Me,” the title track on the album, is a ballad about the struggles of trying to be everybody’s everything and the fear that you aren’t enough to accomplish that daunting task. This song speaks to those who feel they are pulled in many different directions and aren’t sure how much longer they can continue juggling a myriad of roles in life. Jo Dee’s incomparable ability to emote through her music is evident on this track and her vocals are reminiscent of her “Bring on the Rain” days. Veteran Jo Dee fans and new fans alike will have this track on repeat.
7. “Like a Kid Again” is a whimsical song that makes you want to swing as high as you can, fly down a slide, hang from the monkey bars, and look up to the sky and soak in a beautiful day. You can’t help but grin as you hear this song, as you can hear in Jo Dee’s vocals that she is singing through her own smile. If you close your eyes and envision Jo Dee in a studio recording this song, chances you are you, too, are picturing her with her eyes closed, head tilted slightly upward, swaying and smiling as she solidifies her place in our hearts as one of the most reliable artists we know. “Like a Kid Again” isn’t about wishing to go back in time and erase the present, but rather, just reminiscing about a simpler time and wanting (and allowing yourself) to re-live that time for a bit.
8. “A Woman’s Rant” is a song that I absolutely loved when I heard Jo Dee perform it in December at her Miami, Florida show. This track, the second single off the album, is a recipe for success, with a pure country base, a heaping helping of powerful vocals, a dollop of hilarity, and a dash of feminism. This song will make you smirk, and the smirk won’t leave your face until the second Jo Dee lets out a snarky laugh at the end, at which point you will find yourself laughing alongside her.
9. “Take It” is a song that, undoubtedly, can be translated into an anthem of freedom for Jo Dee as she embarks on the new journey of an independent artist. “Take It” is a song about embracing what lies ahead, rather than letting the weight of the world remain on your shoulders. The song teaches a lesson about letting go, looking forward, and hitting the accelerator without hesitation. Drop your convertible top, roll down the windows, and crank this song on high as you cruise down the street. Nothing is going to hold you back, and if you have a moment of doubt, let Jo Dee’s words and actions inspire you!
10. “I’m Free” celebrates complete abandonment from something/someone who is weighing you down. As you likely know, Jo Dee broke the chains that bound her to her former record label and has since experienced more freedom with her musical and career choices. While some may relate this song to a former relationship, others may apply the lyrics to other situations where they have felt as though they were stuck with no escape. Regardless of what you hear when you listen to this song, the beauty of this track (and all of the others from this album) is that its message is something with which everybody can identify. “I’m Free” is somewhat unique to Jo Dee’s usual sound, as it is closer to pop rock than country, made especially apparent by the stellar electric guitar arrangement in the bridge of the song. Make no mistake though … a slight stray from a normal sound does not mean a stray from the sensational vocals with which fans have fallen in love. Jo Dee’s voice in this song is as effortless and flawless as you would expect from this artist who is an expert in her craft. “I’m Free” proves that this singer/songwriter can conquer anything into which she puts her heart, mind, and soul.
11. “He’s Messed Up” is a fun track that bears similarities to No Doubt’s sound … if Gwen Stefani suddenly acquired a twang. This song is a unique one for a very special reason — Jo Dee’s fans were involved in the recording of this track. The background voices and clapping hands you hear belong to fans who donated to a Kickstarter project to produce this album. “He’s Messed Up” tells us that no matter how much you wish someone will change for you, it is inevitable that the person will always remain the same. Jo Dee encourages those who have had the lingering thought of “he will change for me” to put on their walking boots because, to put it quite simply, “he’s messed up!”
12. “Say Goodbye to Superman” is my personal favorite on this album, as well as one of my all-time favorites from Jo Dee’s impeccable catalog. From the opening strokes of the piano keys and the first words uttered by the incomparable Jo Dee (“I’m down on my knees trying hard to find answers …”), this song pulls you close while simultaneously tearing you apart. Jo Dee searches for a way to tell her son that his father won’t be coming home and is not the superhero her son admired. Rather, he is just a man who fell victim to his own devices. Jo Dee hits her knees as she pleads for a way to pick up the pieces of her brokenhearted son, and, of course, as a wife and mother left behind, Jo Dee also seeks solitude and prays to God that He will help her cope with the loss she also endured. Jo Dee painfully croons “Lord I need your strength to help me make it through because the man that was his Superman was my superhero too.” Keep a box of tissues nearby because this song will tug at your heartstrings as you find yourself hitting “repeat” to hear it again.
If you love pure country music with a modern day twist, you cannot go wrong with Me. This album has a little bit for everyone and will quickly become a staple on your playlists after just one listen.
You can download Jo Dee’s new album, Me, now on iTunes or you can purchase a physical copy of the CD from Amazon.com.
Let me know what you think and make sure you’re following me, @JenSwirsky on Twitter.
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