Feel Good Album: Jennifer Love Hewitt's BareNaked

Likeability is sometimes an under-appreciated commodity in pop music. The likable are not always the most talented, but they work hard, have a good time, and (if they are pop singers) produce charming music. So is the case with Jennifer Love Hewitt's BareNaked, which suffered criticism under the weight of her celebrity. Released in 2002, the album is her fourth, and her only to chart on the Billboard 200. Its title track was also a modest hit. In fact, "BareNaked" represents the album's appeal: a mix of sturdy pop writing, jangly pop-rock production, and a sincere vocal performance.  Hewitt's passion for the project is clear--she has co-writing credits on almost every track and attacks each song with conviction (even if her delivery on some has its flaws, like her cover of Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee").  Producer and co-writer Meredith Brooks colors the tracks with enough backing to bolster the singer, but not drown her out; after all, Hewitt can sing well, and Brooks has the talent to bring in the right elements to emphasize the performer's strengths. The music explores romance ("Can I Go Now," "You"), self-image ("Stronger"), and being happy and building a career in the entertainment industry ("Avenue of the Stars"). What results is a clear-eyed album about a strong and good-hearted young woman facing her insecurities and doing her best to live a joyous life in Los Angeles.

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