Delicious Surprise

Delicious Surprise

4.6 5
by Jo Dee Messina
     
 

It's delicious -- though not exactly a surprise -- that take-charge girl Jo Dee Messina helped produce the bulk of this album and contributes mightily to the songwriting. What might raise an eyebrow is the grit, purpose, and bristling energy she brings to the table: This fierce document is the work of an artist who's still hungry and looking for an edge. Messina sets…  See more details below

Overview

It's delicious -- though not exactly a surprise -- that take-charge girl Jo Dee Messina helped produce the bulk of this album and contributes mightily to the songwriting. What might raise an eyebrow is the grit, purpose, and bristling energy she brings to the table: This fierce document is the work of an artist who's still hungry and looking for an edge. Messina sets the tone with three hard-driving country-rock tunes that are dense, layered, and roiling, with the common theme of perseverance in the face of daunting personal crises. She takes the diary-like lyrics and scorches them, her soulful belting turning each one into a mission statement confirming her determination to make a better future for herself. Along the way she allows herself to enjoy living-well-is-the-best-revenge moments at the expense of feckless lovers trying to rekindle long-dead flames, first in the churning "Who's Crying Now" and most scathingly in the swampy groove of the merciless "My Give a Damn's Busted." "I Wear My Life" mutates from a lilting, mid-tempo country ballad into a full-throttle, rocking barnburner, as Messina declaims the self-affirming lyrics with gusto. After all these fireworks, all the torching of insensitive lovers, the album closes on a poignant note with "You Were Just Here," a robust cataloging of old memories, which Messina renders in a voice choked with emotion. Not for the faint of heart, Delicious Surprise shapes a glorious sound out of abject heartbreak.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Not counting a Christmas album and a greatest-hits compilation, Jo Dee Messina didn't release an album between 2000's Burn and 2005's Delicious Surprise. Five years is a long, long wait between records, and Messina does what any smart artist should and pretends that the gap doesn't exist by patterning her new album after the prevailing trends in current country music. At the midpoint of the 2000s, the hottest thing around is the Muzik Mafia spearheaded by gonzo country-poppers Big & Rich, whose protégée Gretchen Wilson is the biggest new female country singer of the mid-'90s. Messina uses Wilson, or at least Wilson's rowdy redneck image, as the foundation of her comeback on Delicious Surprise, which is filled with sexy pictures of Messina, starting with her toned stomach on the back cover to a shot of her topless on a white piano in the liner notes (for those interested in such things, the poster promised on the back cover is nothing more than the large picture on the fold-out booklet, meaning that if you tack this up on your wall, your CD no longer has a booklet). Wilson's attitude is also apparent on the sassy first single, "My Give a Damn's Busted," which sports not only the funniest lyric here, but also the leanest, liveliest arrangement. That's because, for all of the exterior makeover, Messina pretty much remains the same as she was in 2000: a dynamic, charismatic singer who's good enough to make her professionally crafted Nashville country-pop sound less formulaic than it is, but that doesn't disguise the fact that it's often standard Music City fare. And it's not the songwriting that's a problem -- she gets some of the best professional tunes on the market and her original material here (four songs, which is a grand total of a quarter of the album) is assured, confessional, and among the best material here -- but it's the production and presentation, which are too safe, predictable, and radio-ready. True, Delicious Surprise is well done, sounding as good as anything in mainstream contemporary country, but as "My Give a Damn's Busted" proves, Messina's already appealing vocals sound better in arrangements that don't rely on soaring choruses and aren't polished til they shine. Not that she sounds bad -- it's just that she doesn't sound as distinctive as she could or should, given that great voice of hers. All things considered, Delicious Surprise is a solid comeback -- after a five-year hiatus, it's simply good to have Jo Dee Messina back -- but the best moments here, whether the aforementioned single or her searching ballad "It Gets Better," are good enough to hold out hope that she releases an album of songs that consistently strong the next time around.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/26/2005
Label:
Curb Records
UPC:
0715187877023
catalogNumber:
78770

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jo Dee Messina   Primary Artist,Vocals
Javier Solís   Tambo Drums
Bekka Bramlett   Tambourine,Background Vocals,Tambo Drums
Mike Brignardello   Bass
Pat Buchanan   Electric Guitar
Dan Dugmore   Steel Guitar
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle,Mandolin
Shannon Forrest   Percussion,Drums
Larry Franklin   Mandolin
Paul Franklin   Dobro,Steel Guitar,Slide Guitar
Kevin Grantt   Bass
Kenny Greenberg   Electric Guitar
Michael Landau   Electric Guitar
B. James Lowry   Acoustic Guitar
Brent Mason   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Gene Miller   Background Vocals,Tambo Drums
Steve Nathan   Organ,Synthesizer,Piano,Wurlitzer,Synthesizer Strings
Russ Pahl   Banjo,Dobro,Electric Guitar,Steel Guitar
Lonnie Wilson   Drums
Glenn Worf   Bass
Jonathan Yudkin   Fiddle
Aubrey Haynie   Fiddle,Mandolin
Jimmy Nichols   Organ,Piano,Accordion,Keyboards
Russell Terrell   Background Vocals
Lisa Cochran   Background Vocals
Bryan Sutton   Acoustic Guitar
Kim Parent   Background Vocals
Troy Lancaster   Electric Guitar
Mark Beckett   Drums
Wes Hightower   Background Vocals
Larry Beaird   Acoustic Guitar
Tom Bukovac   Electric Guitar
Shannon Forest   Drums
Aubry Haney   Mandolin

Technical Credits

Joe Diffie   Composer
Tim McGraw   Producer
Derek Bason   Engineer
John Bettis   Composer
Byron Gallimore   Producer
Wayne Kirkpatrick   Composer
Mike Reid   Composer
Kevin Savigar   Composer
George Teren   Composer
Chris Farren   Composer
Mark Bright   Producer,Audio Production
Brett James   Composer
Tom Shapiro   Composer
Jo Dee Messina   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Beth Hart   Composer
Mark Selby   Composer
Shaye Smith   Composer
Christi Dannemiller   Composer
Glenn Sweitzer   Art Direction
Hillary Lindsey   Composer
Shaunna Bolton   Composer
Troy Verges   Composer
Katrina Elam   Composer
Glen Burtnick   Composer
Tony Martin   Composer

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