Jessica Mauboy

Get 'Em Girls

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As is so often the case, indigenous Australian vocalist Jessica Mauboy's second-place finish on the 2006 fourth season of Australian Idol has proved to be a blessing in disguise, as while winner Damien Leith's career has been bogged down by perfunctory covers albums, her post-talent show output has been far more creative. Recorded in the U.S. with various hotshot producers and a string of established rent-a-rappers, her second album, Get Em Girls, develops the urban pop sound of her 2008 debut, Been Waiting, on 14 tracks that position her as her homeland's premier young diva. The opening trio shows that she means business, with the title track, a feisty "girl power" hip-hop anthem featuring Snoop Dogg's trademark laid-back delivery, the "in your face" fusion of clattering drums and quirky synths on "Handle It," and the old-skool beats and attitude-laden chants of "Accelerate That" evoking the sassy and empowering R&B of early Rihanna. Elsewhere, Ludacris and Iyaz provide the necessary swagger for the David Guetta-esque synth pop of "Saturday Night" and acidic crunk of "Like This," respectively; the juddering, minimal electro production of "Foreign" recalls the more futuristic moments on Beyoncé's Sasha Fierce; and "Fight for You" combines harder-edged Timbaland-style beats and dramatic strings to produce a clever metaphorical tale of a battle to keep her true love. The ballads are just as convincing, from the slightly medieval blend of harpsichord, strings, and baroque piano hooks on "Scariest Part," to the big-note powerhouse "Here for Me," to the "Viva la Vida"-inspired "Reconnected," although U.S. counterpart Jordin Sparks is likely to feel a sense of déjà vu with the blatant "Tattoo" knockoff "Can Anybody Tell Me" and Jay Sean duet "What Happened to Us," while "No One Like You" is bland midtempo filler suggesting that the track list could have done with a bit of trimming. Of course, there's nothing particularly new here and the constant use of Auto-Tune is unnecessary with such a gifted vocalist on board, but while Get Em Girls may not rock the boat, it's still a confident second effort that continues to indicate Mauboy was robbed of an Idol victory.

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