Rene Jones - Chill Factor (2007)

Rene Jones
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Someone will listen to Rene Jones' Chill Factor and say,  "she's trying to sound like Regina Belle." They'll mean that as an insult - as if being influenced by someone and allowing those influences to be filtered into your work counts as some kind of horrible sin. The fact that Chill Factor has the feel of a work from Belle or one of the other female singers who reigned supreme from 1986 to about 1994 would be an insult if Jones couldn't sing or if her lyrics didn't stand up or if the record didn't have any tempo changes. However, those shortcomings - if they did exist on Chill Factor - would stand as more of an indictment than an insult.

Those shortcomings do not exist on Chill Factor. In fact, the strongest part of this album might be the lyrics. Love and relationships - the topic Jones addresses with most of her songs - is one topic where it's hard to say anything new.

Someone will listen to Rene Jones' Chill Factor and say,  "she's trying to sound like Regina Belle." They'll mean that as an insult - as if being influenced by someone and allowing those influences to be filtered into your work counts as some kind of horrible sin. The fact that Chill Factor has the feel of a work from Belle or one of the other female singers who reigned supreme from 1986 to about 1994 would be an insult if Jones couldn't sing or if her lyrics didn't stand up or if the record didn't have any tempo changes. However, those shortcomings - if they did exist on Chill Factor - would stand as more of an indictment than an insult.

Those shortcomings do not exist on Chill Factor. In fact, the strongest part of this album might be the lyrics. Love and relationships - the topic Jones addresses with most of her songs - is one topic where it's hard to say anything new. Jones hits all of the tried and true subjects that one would expect a love singer to address.  However, she proves to be quite an accomplished lyricist.

"Love can be so complicated/Falling into it is so overrated/It's what's after the fall that makes the difference," Jones sings on "Everything I Need." These are not lyrics for the children. That doesn't mean that Jones' lyrics are explicit - they are not. It means that Jones sings from the standpoint of a grown woman. Jones' songs are for people who emerged from the superficial, meat market world of relationships, and they have the scars to prove it. Yet, they have advanced beyond the lazy cynicism that allows people to make blanket denunciations of women or men.  However, songs like "If You Let Me In" display that balance of skepticism with hope. "Loving so easily/Comes so hard for me, darling/I know you will listen with your heart/And I need someone to care for me/As they'd like to be/To make my heart a home," Jones sings.

"You Know" is about what happens when a relationship goes sour. The song is a radio-friendly, dance song. It comes the closest to being the kind of song that could get airplay on a youth-orientated radio station. In many cases, it's best to ignore the lyrics on this kind of song and focus on the beat. However, the lyrics showcase an independent woman who has decided to take control of her situation - as painful at that decision might be. Jones' voice matches the album's grown and sexy lyrics. Many current R&B singers embrace a breathy style of singing that makes them sound like teenagers. Jones sounds like a woman who addresses matters of the heart in a way one would expect an adult to handle these matters - with honesty and directness. Chill Factor shows that Jones can handle up-tempo dance tunes, mid-tempo songs and ballads. The mixture ensures that listeners won't get bored. 

By Howard Dukes

 
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