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Simpson goes beyond chicken and tuna

Rebecca Saunders | Thursday, March 25, 2004

Everyone knows that Jessica Simpson is a musician, not just a star of the hit reality show “Newlyweds.” However, how many “Newlyweds” fans could name one song she actually sings? The chance to learn comes in Simpson’s third album, In This Skin. While the album will not get her invited to the Grammy’s without the “Newlyweds” camera in tow, Simpson seems to be on her way towards legitimate recognition. In This Skin has been re-released with three new tracks and for the first time in awhile, Simpson is seeing some musical success. In This Skin is an album that allows the listener to hear Simpson’s true voice – for the most part. Although there are a few attempts at Britney Spears-esque songs, overall the album is very good. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Simpson admitted, “My dream is to be like Jewel, to sit on a chair in my blue jeans and sing my heart out.” Simpson knows where she stands, but could somebody please tell her producers? In This Skin is basically a good album, but the bad songs are blatant. The enjoyable songs that will get stuck in a listener’s head and let one appreciate the sheer talent that Simpson holds are the tracks where she is allowed to maximize her vocal talent. Tracks like “My Way Home,” “Forbidden Fruit” and “Loving You” sound like Simpson is trying to sound like Britney Spears, when there is no need for that emulation. Simpson will wow audiences with her voice alone – if only they could hear it through the over-produced tracks. There are some terrific songs on In This Skin. A cover of Robbie Williams’ “Angels” is beautiful when sung in Simpson’s impressively powerful voice. The other cover, and one of the additional tracks on the re-released album, is “Take My Breath Away,” which is good, but not quite as successful. If a person loved “Take My Breath Away” in its original form, there is not much chance of liking this cover. However, a listener who is more interested in pop music will love this new version. The large question looming in every “Newlyweds” fan’s mind is “Where is Nick?” Both Lachey and Simpson were shown recording this album on the show, yet it is only and all Simpson. The major theme of the album is not just love, romance or sex – it is Nick. The majority of the songs on In This Skin are easily related to Simpson and Lachey’s relationship. Cute or pathetic? Fans must judge that for themselves. Simpson co-wrote many of the songs, which have mediocre lyrics for the most part, but are not altogether without imagery and substance. Her voice is beautiful and powerful and that comes through on the album more than anything else. Songs like “Sweetest Sin,” the hit “With You,” “I Have Loved You,” “Everyday I See You,” “Underneath” and “Be” are all well sung and memorable. In This Skin is an album worth getting if you are a Simpson fan, or even just a “Newlyweds” fan. It is generally a good album with a few misguided tracks, and it also includes a bonus DVD with footage from Lachey and Simpson’s wedding as well as the best scenes from the first season of “Newlyweds.” Is Jessica Simpson as dumb as she comes across as? If she were judged by the caliber of her voice, not even close.

Contact Rebecca Saunders at rsaunder@nd.edu