Entertainment Weekly - "Her well-documented struggles and triumphs inform her long-awaited third LP, MAD LOVE, and they turn her tales of love, friendship, and family into one bold coming-of-age statement....She's one of her generation's finest vocalists." -- Grade: B+
Pitchfork (Website) - "[T]hey play out as sincere progressions, bolstered by her vocal talent and honest approach to storytelling. There's enough compelling singing across MAD LOVE to hold interest, even if your tolerance for dance-pop wears thin."
Clash (magazine) - "A record of its time, tracks are shrouded in trendy, distorted atmospherics and a good-girl-gone-bad persona to back it up. It mostly works because JoJo is adaptable as a vocalist and a songwriter, fully invested in the characters she wants to convey."
Photographers: Brooke Nipar; Dante Marshall.
JoJo's first two albums, released in 2004 and 2006, were Top Five hits powered by some of the biggest pop singles of that era. The singer and songwriter claims that the relationship with her label, Blackground, went sour afterward because she took acting roles without giving them a cut. During a period of eight years, Blackground shelved JoJo's subsequent recordings, but she appeared on a handful of songs by other artists, including a pair on Timbaland's Shock Value II, and eventually released some mixtapes. Once she fully regained her creative freedom, she signed with major-label Atlantic and stepped toward her third album with a series of EPs. Those who kept up with JoJo won't be surprised that Mad Love, released almost exactly ten years after her second full-length, is a confident continuation of her R&B-dipped pop. The standard edition begins and ends with soul-baring ballads on which she's accompanied only by piano. In the opener, she flashes back to playing in houses her mother cleaned and hopes that her father, who died in 2015, is proudly watching her. In the closing "I Am," she seems to address those who stifled her: "Can't be that little girl no more, the one you cut up on the floor." Between those songs, there's a whole lot of living in the present through chemically-enhanced mischief, a little heartache, and some carnal vengeance. Fairweather friends and those who impede her good time are flicked aside. Everything is related in candid, occasionally explicit, terms. If she wasn't so direct with her words, the depth of feeling in her voice would be enough to convey that she's been through more than the average young adult and has been experiencing life to the hilt. Although some of the production work sounds like it could have been carried out several years earlier, obvious effort was put forth to make the album seem as 2016 as possible. Most of her collaborators and guests -- a large roster that includes Justin Tranter, Rock Mafia, Alessia Cara, and Wiz Khalifa -- arrived on the pop scene well after she established her career. The album switches styles frequently enough to bring at least a dozen imagined alternate vocalists -- including Rihanna, Emeli Sande, and any given pop-oriented retro-soul specialist -- to mind. Despite that, this is solid restart. JoJo displays more than a decade's worth of growth here as a writer and singer. ~ Andy Kellman