Happy Valentine’s Day From JoJo: Hear the Singer’s Excellent New EP

The #LoveJo EP is required listening for lovers, fighters and everyone in between

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A perfect Valentine’s Day: Roses, wine and… new music from JoJo.

Yes, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned love song to set the mood for romance, and JoJo — born Joanna Noelle Levesque and known for her career as a teen pop chart-topper, and more recent rebirth as the innovative R&B songbird to beat — has christened her recent signing to Atlantic Records with a free four-track EP, #LoveJo. The varied set sees her interpreting classic songs with inventive production and, as ever, chill-inducing vocals.

A swoony, instrumental-and-spoken-word intro leads into a lush, jazzy cover of Anita Baker’s “Caught Up in the Rapture” and closes with a spare, gospel-inflected version of the spiritual “Oh Glory” — those runs! But the clear standout is her version of Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home,” all militant stomp buried under ambient noise; her voice soars and crashes over the glitchy, stuttering beat. It’s not the most obvious love song, but who cares — it’s good.

For the legions of fans eagerly anticipating the singer’s formal return, it’s a fine stopgap — and further proof that JoJo, kept down for the better part of a decade by label drama, has the raw talent to rule 2014.