Janet Jackson is Officially Back

From Janet Jackson's official Facebook page.

From Janet Jackson’s official Facebook page.

Janet Jackson is officially back.

We could’ve easily said this a few months ago when the living legend announced her return to music as well as with the launch of her now critically acclaimed Unbreakable World Tour (it will dance its way into town on Feb 24th), but now she’s officially back in the music chart game with her eleventh studio set, Unbreakable, a smooth, sensual music love affair that once again re-teams her with long time collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

Hard to believe that it has been nearly 30 years since Ms. Jackson let us know that she was in full Control, following up with ’89’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and ’93’s janet., further telling the world that Michael Jackson’s kid sister was not only establishing herself with her own creative identity, but letting us know that it was her world and we were the ones living in it, and now with Unbreakable, we still most certainly are.

While the singer is 49 now (and hasn’t served us with a new studio album since 2008’s so-so Discipline), for our esteemed Janet music pleasure principle, Unbreakable is a moody, melancholy mix of tracks that take time to showcase her musical gifts, but more importantly, the long-awaited set showcases her growth as a music artist. This record also proves that Ms. Jackson knows her audience, and that’s what makes it stand out among those other “aging” diva releases that have been thrown our way since Janet’s last offering almost a decade ago.

The young woman who was intent on liberating herself (especially on her under appreciated, brilliant ’97’s The Velvet Rope)is still alive, well, and spiritually alert, but has now evolved into a more settled, reflective artist, as heard on the title track, as well as lead single, “No Sleeep”(the version without J. Cole. )the Kleenex grabbing, “After You Fall,”(which sounds like the music love child of earlier ballads, “Every Time” and “Again”), and the soaring “Black Eagle.”

But of course, with most Ms. J albums, she wants to make the listener feel good and groovy, and although she’s now an older, wiser diva, she and Mr. Jam and Mr. Lewis still know how to get the party started after all these years. The sizzling fire of fan favorite “BURNITUP!” (which delightfully re-teams her with her “Son of a Gun” co-star Missy Elliot), as well as the groovy flows of “Night,” “Dammn Baby,” (which samples her sexy ’97 single, “I Get Lonely.”)”Gon’ B Alright,” “Should’ve Known Better,” and “2 Be Loved,” are all armed and ready to take you on the floor and then upstairs to the bedroom for a little after hours Janet lovin.’

But if there’s one trend that sticks out throughout the whole set, it’s that Jackson’s voice still maintains its trademark breathy coos, but sounds a little darker, a little duskier now, and you could almost compare it to her brother Michael’s voice even more so than in her youth. Whether riding the soul train on groove on “Take Me Away” or pleading that “hate will only divide” on “The Great Forever,” Ms. “Nasty” still wields the tingling vibrato that emphasizes her shared DNA with a fuller, more fluid vocal tone.

Is Unbreakable going to be an album that puts Janet back into chart bulldozing form like she certainly was back-in-the-day? Most likely not. But is it an album that will satisfy her fans’ thirst after waiting soooo long for new material? Absolutely.

“I’ve come a long way / Got a long way to go,” she breathlessly sings on “Well-Traveled.” She most certainly does–and Unbreakable shows that Janet is going to take her long time (and highly devoted) fans along with her for the ride wherever she goes, and that’s the best part of it all.

Get the point? Good. Let’s dance and welcome Ms. Janet back with open arms, because at this point in her outstanding career, she truly deserves it.