Jessica Simpson

Do You Know

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Over the course of four albums in nearly ten years, the public at large has proven largely indifferent to Jessica Simpson the pop singer, stringing her along with a handful of charting singles but never quite giving her a big, undeniable pop hit, the kind that would justify her celebrity. Given that anemic track record, why wouldn't a good ol' Texas girl like Jessica leave the city for the country? That's exactly what Simpson and her omnipresent father/manager Joe have done with 2008's Do You Know, placing all their chips on the gamble that country fans will believe Jessica is now a sexy, sassy cowgirl, even though Do You Know has exactly as much sex and sass as her pop albums, meaning none at all. Just like her pop albums, the lively first single "Come on Over" -- sharing a title with Shania, but none of Twain's swing or strut -- is a ringer, suckering audiences into an album that's stiff and stuffy, an endless parade of dreary ballads and crawling love songs. Apart from a few fiddles and steel guitars, these songs are interchangeable with the dull adult pop that cluttered In This Skin and A Public Affair, and they wind up overwhelming whatever meager charms Do You Know has, overshadowing the title track duet with Dolly Parton, the not-bad "Come on Over," and "Still Beautiful," a quietly insistent empowerment anthem that has a hook big enough to camouflage Simpson's utter lack of recording presence. Jessica's team hasn't had a knack for picking the right song but she could possibly clear that hurdle if she showed some sign of life as a vocalist, but she's unfailingly listless no matter how many theatrical gestures she attempts to cram into her big boring ballads. Simpson has now been polished and packaged in the two genres that lend themselves to prefab stars, and she's not managed to make an impression in either, and there are only so many times a pretty face can try to flirt on record before she's not given another chance. [A CD/DVD version was also released.]

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