Capsule Review: “Do You Know” by Jessica Simpson

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September 16, 2008

5:11 PM

When I heard Jessica Simpson had a country album due out this fall, I shuddered.

How could the world’s ditziest starlet become a country music sensation? Produced by Brett James (who has worked with country queen Carrie Underwood) and written mostly by Simpson, “Do You Know” had to meet great expectations if it were to cement Simpson’s reputation as a country superstar. It starts out decently enough, with the top-20 single “Come on Over,” and continues with the most genuine song on the album, “I Remember That.” The song pleads with victims of spousal abuse, urging them not to return to their partners.

Simpson at the CMA Music Festival

And then, things get ugly. Despite assurances that Simpson loves country music, there isn’t a real standout track that displays that passion. Songs such as “Pray Out Loud” and “You’re My Sunday” all offer generic lyrics that could be found in any genre of music. To make matters worse, Jessica’s efforts to bring authenticity by singing with Dolly Parton on the title track, “Do You Know,” backfires, as Simpson’s overblown, whiny voice fails to mesh with Dolly’s exceptional one. The album might put listeners who enjoy upbeat, catchy tunes right to sleep, as only one song, “Stay Beautiful,” manages not to be a ballad.

Listeners who enjoy country/pop artists like Taylor Swift will probably find this album worthwhile, due to its heavy emphasis on relationships. But it’s not suited for country fans who prefer a more serious fare.

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