Fefe Dobson – Fefe Dobson (2003)

fefedobson-09

Felicia Lily “Fefe” Dobson (born February 28, 1985) is a Canadian singer/songwriter and recording artist. Born in Toronto, Ontario, her career began when Jive Records attempted to develop her as a popular musician when she was a teenager, to which Dobson refused. She then sang for Island/Def Jam, where the executives contracted her.
Working closely with producer Jay Levine, Fefe Dobson created a rousing debut that, despite being a highly melodic and relentlessly effective pop album, is rescued from flavor-of-the-moment dissipation by a schizophrenic rock crunch and her own attractively bad attitude. The histrionic kiss-off “Bye Bye Boyfriend” lurches like Tracy Bonham‘s “Mother Mother,” whipping wildly between a headbanging chorus and shuffling, atmospheric verses. “I remember how it was when we started off/With your tattoo and your lip pierced/And the raggedy style you used to rock” — Dobson doesn’t pause between these words. Instead she lets them tumble, stumbling over one another in a giddy summation of the relationship’s salad days.
This is just one instance where Dobson‘s diction, dicked-over anger, and damn huge voice goose her debut past its popternative tendencies. She coats the couplets of bombastic pop-punk opener “Stupid Little Love Song” in layers of jaded sarcasm — just like a frowning punk rock girl would do if she had to reveal her crush to the captain of the football team. “Everything” marries the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Under the Bridge” to Michelle Branch, but it’s just Fefe making that unholy union work. She has to move a bit faster on “Rock It Till You Drop It,” a strange studio shape-shifter that strips down and urbanizes Eric Clapton‘s “It’s in the Way That You Use It” while referencing Backstreet Boys‘ “I Want It That Way.”
It also features a cameo from…Tone-Loc? Yes, it’s this kind of freestyle borrowing and reassembly that might marginalize an artist who was something less then herself; fortunately, words like “less” and “marginal” mean little to Fefe Dobson. She inserts a touching piano breakdown into the rousing rock plea of “Kiss Me Fool,” and swallows whole the crunchy, muted power chords of “Unforgiven.” Some sugar pop albums would ask a deadbeat dad for his love, if such a song were even included. “Unforgiven” is that song, but it staunchly refuses any kind of forgiveness. “Where were you when I plugged in my first guitar?” Dobson spits during a litany of absentee moments, and the track’s beautifully atmospheric breaks only make the subsequent urgency of its stiletto power chords more palpable. Fefe Dobson definitely has an opportunistic streak, and its stylistic cherry-picking can be trying.
But production niceties and savvy marketing can’t fake the talent Fefe has. It’s her willingness to inject pop with pluck and rock as much as she flutters that makes Dobson‘s debut much more than just a popternative clone. Best of all, it still caters to those casual fans who won’t know any better.

Tracklist

1.  “Stupid Little Love Song”   (Fefe Dobson, Jay Levine, James Bryan McCollum) – 3:19
2.  “Bye Bye Boyfriend”   (Dobson, Levine, McCollum) – 4:14
3.  “Take Me Away”   (Dobson, Levine) – 3:29
4.  “Everything”   (Dobson, Levine, McCollum) – 4:11
5.  “Rock It ‘Til You Drop It”   (Dobson, Levine) – 4:05
6.  “Revolution Song”   (Dobson, Levine, McCollum) – 3:51
7.  “Kiss Me Fool”   (Dobson, Levine, McCollum) – 4:00
8.  “Unforgiven”   (Dobson, Levine) – 4:07
9.  “We Went For a Ride”   (Dobson, Levine) – 3:42
10.  “Give It Up”   (Dobson, Levine) – 3:36
11.  “Julia”   (Dobson, Levine) – 4:03
12.  “8×10”   (Dobson, Levine, McCollum) – 4:09
13.  “Rainbow”  (hidden track) (Dobson, Levine) – 2:30

UK bonus tracks
13. “Rainbow”   (Dobson, Levine) – 2:30
14. “Don’t Let Me Fall”   (Dobson, Levine) – 3:55

Personnel

  • Jonathan Benedict- A&R
  • Kirk Broadbridge- guitar
  • Shanna Busman- art direction
  • Steve Chahley- assistant director
  • Lenny DeRose- mixing
  • Katrina Dickson- photography
  • Fefe Dobson- composer, vocal arrangement
  • Jeff Fenster- A&R
  • Andrew Hollander- piano, string arrangements
  • Dan Kanter- guitar, guitar effects
  • Jennifer Goble Klein- assistant engineer
  • J. Levine- composer
  • Jaclyn Levine- Pro-Tools
  • Tom Lord-Alge- mixing
  • James Bryan McCollum- arranger, composer, digital editing, drum programming, guitar, classical guitar, instrumentation, orchestration, piano, Pro-Tools, producer, soloist, string programming
  • Darrel Moen- vocal engineer
  • Phil Mucci- photography
  • James Murray- digital editing, engineer, mixing, Pro-Tools
  • Rick Patrick- creative director
  • Patrick “Plain Pat” Reynolds- A&R
  • David Schiffman- engineer
  • Zak Soulam- guitar
  • Tone-Loc- rap
  • Andy West- art direction
  • Nir Z.- drums, percussion

Notes

Released: December 9, 2003
Recorded: 2003 at Metalworks Studios, Mississauga, ON
Genre: Pop, Rock
Length: 47:04

Label – Island Records

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