Jill Johnson

Baby Blue Paper

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A year after scoring a big hit with Music Row (2007), a collection of American country music covers recorded in Nashville, Jill Johnson tried her hand at writing songs of her own on Baby Blue Paper, her tenth album of new material to date and the first on which she's credited with writing all the songs. Of course, she'd tried her hand at songwriting in the past; for instance, The Woman I've Become (2006), the album she released prior to Music Row, includes six songs credited to her. As her career progressed, she took a steadily greater role in the songwriting process for each of her albums, and Baby Blue Paper is therefore something of a culmination of her progression as a songwriter. Each song on the 13-track effort finds her collaborating with co-songwriters, most often Liz Rose, whose relationship with Johnson dates back several years. The two women teamed up to write eight of the 13 songs on Baby Blue Paper. Recorded in Nashville with veteran producers Scott Baggett and Tom Harding, Baby Blue Paper sounds as polished and commercially oriented as past albums by Johnson, whose style is reminiscent of Faith Hill. Indeed, the only significant difference between this album and its predecessors is the bounty of self-written material. While some songs such as "Top of the World" and "Little Girl of Mine" have an autobiographical bent, they're the exception, and even they aren't especially self-referential. Anyone could have written this material. That's not to say that Baby Blue Paper is filled with generic material; in fact, there are quite a few great contemporary country-pop songs here, including "Say Something," "You're Looking for Me," and "Top of the World," and even the lesser material is often impressive. It's a testament to Johnson's songwriting ability that Baby Blue Paper contains nothing that could be considered filler. On the contrary, Baby Blue Paper is a gratifyingly solid album with 50 minutes of first-rate material from Sweden's top female country-pop singer. There aren't any mega-hits on a par with "Crazy in Love," her breakout hit from 2003, but fans should be satisfied all the same.

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