Jessa Zaragoza

Just Can't Help Feelin'

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In 1997, Philippine female singer Jessa Zaragoza released her debut album, Just Can't Help Feelin'. Zaragoza is also an actress, often starring in sexy roles, so it was a surprise for many to learn that she can sing. There is much depth to her voice, as well as sincerity and passion. Her technique needs smoothing out in spots, but she has a lot of natural talent and the potential to become one of the Philippines' best singers. The album is dominated by passionate, easy-listening love songs, a style of music quite popular in the Philippines. As such, however, it's difficult to expect much bite or adventurism, and many of the songs are easily forgettable. Some are better than others, though. "Just Can't Help Feelin'," for example, is a pleasant ballad, marked by a relatively nice melody and chorus. On parts of the song, however, Zaragoza seems to be searching for a comfortable delivery. Another ballad, "Bakit Pa?" (trans: Why Is It?), was a huge hit. Zaragoza shines here, and her delivery is strong and self-assured. One of the album's best offerings is "Don't Leave Me," an interesting, almost country-styled outing featuring a more modern tone than the other pieces. Zaragoza rises to the occasion and comes through with a fine performance.

Overall, though, the album would benefit from stronger material, and Zaragoza deserves more of a challenge. Regardless, Just Can't Help Feelin' introduces a major new singing talent in the Philippines.