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Album Review

Jessie J, 'Who Are You'

April 11, 2011

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It’s not until the fourth song on her new debut that Jessie J upends expectations. After nearly two minutes of unhinged wails and vocal curlicues, the acoustic guitar falls silent and her voice tapers off. You suddenly hear catcalls and wild applause. It’s the first indication that “Big White Room’’ was recorded live, and it’s a glimpse of the powerhouse talent this young British singer and songwriter unleashes on a brash album that is equal parts pop and modern R&B. Jessie J has been marketed as an in-your-face pop star, but she’s more than that. For all its sass and spunk (“Do It Like a Dude’’), the album also lays bare a lot of heart and soul (“Abracadabra’’). Close your eyes and you’ll swear it’s Rihanna singing “L.O.V.E.,’’ or Christina Aguilera chewing up the scenery on “Mamma Knows Best,’’ but they are simply testaments to Jessie J’s dexterity. She’ll no doubt weather criticism for such a broad palette, and for a debut called “Who You Are,’’ it certainly doesn’t shed any definitive light on its maker’s artistic identity. Then again, why be just one thing when you are good at several? (Out tomorrow) JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Abracadabra’’

Jessie J performs at the KISS 108 concert at Comcast Center on May 21.