The Malta Independent 14 April 2024, Sunday
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Jennifer Lopez returns to her pop music throne with new album, 'This Is Me... Now'

Associated Press Monday, 26 February 2024, 14:01 Last update: about 3 months ago

On "This Is Me....Now," Jennifer Lopez's first solo album in a decade, the singer takes back her rightful place on the throne of pop music.

In 2002, Jennifer Lopez dropped "This Is Me… Then," her third studio album that married her glossy-eyed romanticism with R&B-pop rhythms. She also announced an engagement to the actor Ben Affleck, who she met while filming the movie "Gigli" in 2001. The pair broke up a few years later.

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Fast forward 20 years and "Bennifer" — as they were dubbed by the '00s press — has returned, and so has her sublime pop. In 2022, they married, and now in 2024, the "This Is Me" series continues — articulating nostalgia and a loving feeling she knows best. It is the soundtrack to a new J.Lo Renaissance — one where she got her happy ending and has made the art to let listeners into her dreamy love story.

The opening track, "This Is Me… Now," is quintessential J.Lo, with romantic instrumentation of flutes and harps. "Had a lot to learn, had a lot to grow, had to find my way," sings Lopez on a track reminiscent of a track that might've been on her 2002 R&B dance-pop album — with a new, refined wisdom.

It proceeds "To Be Yours," an energetic love song — sentimental but never saccharine — perfect for a serenade or the dance floor atop hip-hop beats.

The album was released on the same day as a film by the same name: "This Is Me... Now: A Love Story."

"Can't Get Enough," an early single that doubled as a tease for the movie, was released with a music video that depicts the singer getting married several times, as she has in real life. In that way, the visual communicates that she's ready to open the door to her life and show it all — the good and the ugly — all the while sweetly singing "I'm still in love with you, boy," a gender-flipped take on Alton Ellis' 1967 reggae classic "I'm Still in Love with You," which her song samples.

As for that relationship transparency: "Dear Ben pt. II" is a sequel to the slow-burn "Dear Ben" from the 2002 album. The second installment is a more dynamic take on the same relationship. "When I think you'll let me down, you lift my hopes," she sings about finding love with Affleck again, two decades later.

At the end of the album is the R&B anthem "Greatest Love Story Never Told" — a bow on the album's full package — Lopez's breathy vocals sway above an acoustic guitar, piano and strings. "It's destiny how we found each other twice in one lifetime," she sings both for her audience and for her husband.

"This Is Me... Now" is for the Jennifer Lopez loyalists who patiently awaited her return, Bennifer fans, and those who believe in true love — no matter what shape it takes, or how long.

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