Sass Jordan

Hot Gossip

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The pop gloss of Present is even more apparent on Hot Gossip; Sass Jordan has even rechristened herself "Sas," dropping a letter so as not to confuse mainstream listeners ("What's her name? Ass?"). To her credit, Jordan has fully admitted that Hot Gossip's drum programming, vocal processing, and lighthearted MOR arrangements were at the behest of her record company, which rejected her plans for a straight-up rock record. An industry veteran, she knew the game, and the score. She said "Why not?" and made Gossip. "So Long" and first single "People Talk" are slick and radio-ready, dominated by the blips and trills of synthesizers, and layers of harmony behind Jordan's own robust vocals. Her trademark grit has been refined considerably throughout the album, but Jordan's big voice can't fully be silenced. With its slide guitar fills and fun wah-wah peddle shuffle, "People Talk" could be a slicker version of Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About." "Waste of Time" drifts over a subtle drum track, the bluesy sensuality in Jordan's voice more salacious than 99 percent of pop divas would even attempt, while "Cinnamon" is basic, catchy pop sold by Jordan's sandpaper voice, which recalls both Terence Trent D'Arby and Rod Stewart. There are some misses here; "Miracle," for example, is just too saccharine, even in the blatant pop context of Hot Gossip. But overall the album is an interesting one for Jordan fans, since it can place her in that slick universe, but can never quite contain her. Who else starts an un-ironic stab at pop success with a song that cops the bassline from the Beastie Boys' "Gratitude" and contains the line "Monday morning -- it's never gonna smoke another cigarette time"?

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