It has been a long and arduous journey for this former Pussycat Doll. Now going by J Sutta, the singer, songwriter and performer laces up her boots and dances her face off on I Say Yes–a rather blistering piece of escapism littered with glitter, vibrant intensity and nothing but raw honesty. It’s her long-awaited bow, which “took me my whole life to make it exactly what it is,” she says. “I caught myself telling someone it took me a couple of years to make this album.” Following a sequence of Dance Club chart-toppers over the years, including 2007’s “Make It Last” (a collaboration with Dave Aude) and, most recently, her new album’s inescapable “Distortion,” she stakes her claim with stimulating club jams, pouring her heart out over gusts of tropical house, EDM and bubble-gum pop. “The title of the album embodies the self belief and persistence based on that belief to keep moving forward or even skywards toward the stars you dream of catching,” she muses.
She makes a fearless resolution on the opening track. “Reign, reign, reign. Breaking down these walls. It’s time to conquer all,” she commands. “And then he said, ‘I’ll reign the truth if you want me to.'”
That truth speaks to Sutta’s breaking free of the girl group moniker (for better or worse) to craft her own lane, a road less traveled, so to speak. “[The album] is a precise sum total of all of my experiences good and bad. I feel it is a story filled with stories that everyone can hopefully relate to and ultimately has a steady undertone of faith in a happy ending,” she explains about the poetic, romantic and empowering nature of the record. “There’s a love affair in the atmosphere,” she coos on the thumping synth-pop firestorm “Universe,” “now that we’re in it, feel our bodies blur in the universe.”
Sensuality and feeling comfortable in her own skin also appear to be a thread lines needling their way throughout I Say Yes. On songs like “Feel Like Making Love” (in which she extends an offer to hook-up to a former flame–“don’t you hesitate to call me up if you ever feel like making love,” she winks); “Forever” and “Special” (featuring Fuse ODG), Sutta owns every part of her body, using her inner strength as the weapon of choice. Elsewhere, she takes the pain like jagged little pills, especially on the potent duo of tracks, “Inches Away” (constructed primarily with haunting piano before the moody synths and snaps sneak out) and “Shame” (featuring LIam Horne), which stands as a particularly intimate and affecting downtempo. “Tell me you love me but you don’t mean. Make me believe that something’s between us,” she avows on the latter. “Shame on me. No shame on you. You told me things in no way true. You took my heart, broke it in two.” On “Pushed Me” and the Will Peters-assisted “Can’t Take No More,” she also examines various shades of heartache, betrayal and regret to great effect.
“I grew with [this album]. It’s like there were parallels with this album and my life, overcoming challenges and being a better me once I got to the other side of each challenge,” she says. “As an independent artist, there was no budget or marketing machine to help, so I tried to take my time to craft something I could stand by proudly no matter what anyone says. I feel like, when you know you have worked as hard as you could to do the best you could, it stops mattering what anyone else thinks.”
Sutta also enlists the help of Pitbull (with the undeniable “When a Girl Loves a Boy”), Hopsin (“Feel Nothing”) and Rico Love (on the lionhearted title cut). On working with Love, she says, “Rico has an unbelievable talent at looking into your soul and drawing out whatever emotions you are going through in the moment and putting it into a song. He is one of the most awe inspiring and gifted people I have ever met and it’s magical to work with him.”
Unequivocally, I Say Yes feels significant. The emotional grit grinding beneath the lyrics, the production and her searing vocal is what true purposeful pop is made of, as Katy Perry would advise. J Sutta is courageous on all 15 tracks, leaving her heart and soul zapped (and that’s a very good thing). She wears her trials and tribulations on her sleeve and that permeates the record with frenetic spirit and an unshakable yearning.
J Sutta’s I Say Yes is out now on iTunes.
Take a listen below: