Jo Dee Messina - ME Review by: Cheryl Harvey Hill, Sr. Staff Journalist
The fifth studio album from the multi-platinum, country superstar, Jo Dee Messina, demonstrates exactly how, and why, she became a superstar. Her dynamic voice is better than ever and her vocal range has expanded along with her career control. Messina co-produced ME, with Grammy award-winning recording engineer Julian King, on her newly formed label, Dreambound Records. She also wrote, or co-wrote, seven of the ten songs on the album along with some of Nashville's finest song writers.
ME is a project close to Messina's heart since it “was funded for her fans, by her fans”, she says. Proving their dedication, they easily helped surpass her $100,000 production goal, making her “'My time. Our music', Kickstarter campaign”, the most successful one to come out of Nashville. Taking full advantage of social media, she connected to the fans via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Stage-It. She even allowed the fans to select which songs would be included on the album, submit artwork for her label logo, select the album title, and decide which song would be released first. All of their choices proved to be excellent. They even selected “Peace Sign” as the album's first single and I think it is the perfect platform from which to launch a hit since the song has an easy rhythm and clever, albeit memorable, lyrics: “I'm not comin' undone / I've got nothin' but love / you put the FU in fun / It's all good / I'm not tryin' to fight / I'm not wastin' my time / I'm just sayin' goodbye / one finger shy of the peace sign.” Like I said, memorable lyrics.
It isn't at all difficult for me to understand the fans loyalty towards her. Messina has a special way she reaches out that makes sure you won't forget her. In fact, I will never forget when I met her. It was in 1996, it was my very first "Fan Fair", and it was also my first year as a country music journalist. There are a lot of special memories for me from that year but only one that always makes me smile. This is, in part, what I wrote after that initial encounter in Nashville: We entered the alley via Tootsies back door and as we neared the backstage entrance to the Ryman Auditorium, a young, attractive red-head with a lovely smile, approached us with her arms out-stretched. "Hi," she said enthusiastically, as she grasped my right hand in both of hers and began shaking it. "I'm Jo Dee Messina and I'm a singer." As she spied my media lanyard she smiled even broader, "Write this down,” she ordered, then she carefully enunciated, “Jo - Dee - Mah - Seen - Nah", and then she gestured towards the Ryman. "Some day," she said with firm conviction, "you'll see me coming out that door." She impressed me so much that I did write her name down and I wasn't the least bit surprised when she was named “Top Female Artist of the Year”, by the ACM, only three years later.
I have to say that I enjoyed the entire album but “Peace Sign”, “He's Messed Up”, and “A Woman's Rant” were the stand out tracks for me because of the clever, and memorable, lyrics. I think country radio listeners are going to love this entire album – it's a given that Messina's fans do.