Walloon sometime model, social activist, and singer Jamie-Lee Smit is Epictronic’s golden child and, supposedly, their ticket to the big time into the world of contemporary pop. Smit’s debut “Mon Amour Monique” certainly hit all the right notes. ‘Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème’ (‘You’re Not My Problem Anymore’, for those not speaking French) is what we take to be a precursor to Jamie-Lee’s second foray into the realm of pop and indie rock. Whether it is representative for the album it is preceding remains to be seen. ‘Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème’ is a midpaced pop song with some minor rock elements and stays largely within the same direction as Smit’s solo debut. It’s a more uptempo pop song than the majority of her first album, but like that album it also lacks a distinct hook to truly make it an earworm.
One of the great criticisms that could be leveled at Jamie-Lee’s solo debut from 2015 was that it was fairly dark and downbeat for being a pop/rock effort. Smit’s vocals, from the heart as always, never were the problem – and although it stands to reason that her singing in French is bound to limit her audience, that never stopped anybody from France Gall, Mylène Farmer, Céline Dion, Vanessa Paradis, or Alizée from becoming international superstars. If there’s any real difference between the two it’s that Jamie-Lee Smit, for hitherto unexplained and inexplicable reasons, was not given any upbeat songs that offer an instantly recognizable hook or melody thus far. Granted, Norwegian singer-songwriter Lene Marlin dominated that particular niche in the late nineties and early 2000s, but her biggest hit (after ‘Sitting Down Here’, that is) was ‘How Would It Be?’ from her third album “Lost In A Moment”. A record that, lest we neglect to mention, was unmistakably more upbeat than any of her past record at that point.
‘Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème’ is very much in line with what Lene Marlin was doing around the time of “Lost In A Moment”. It’s not even Jamie-Lee who is the problem, her powerful voice is as good as her positively radiant looks, but that the song can’t decide on what it wants to be. The midpace and Smit’s choice of melodies suggests that it just as easy could've been a fragile little ballad where the only support would come from an acoustic guitar, a cello and light (programmed) percussion. Yet the electric guitar and modest solo is something straight out of an upbeat pop/rock song in vein of Michelle Branch circa “The Spirit Room”. The strangest thing of all is that none of either really transpires. It’s too uptempo to really work as a more introspective number – and Smit’s emotional delivery is far too pronounced for it to work as such. Conversely, to ideally work as an upbeat pop/rock song ‘Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème’ is very much lacking in ways of a much-needed hook or melody. Certainly it is much lighter fare than most of the songs on “Mon Amour Monique” and the single is disarmingly beautiful for what it is. What Jamie-Lee needs is one, just one, great little pop/rock song to launch her to stardom. Perhaps it’s time to hire a new team of writers and composers to tailor a collection of songs to Jamie-Lee’s strengths as a singer and that the radio stations would love to play?
Whether it is ‘Everywhere’, ‘Sitting Down Here’, ‘Perfect View’, or ‘A Thousand Miles’ every pop song needs a hook. ‘Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème’ is hopefully an anomaly and not indicative of Jamie-Lee Smit’s second record as a solo artist. Epictronic is certainly pulling all resources to make her the star she deserves to be. While that is admirable in itself hopefully Smit’s soon-to-be second album will capitalize on hooks and choose what it wants to be. The undecisiveness of “Mon Amour Monique” was ultimately its undoing and ‘Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème’ could very well work if the surrounding songs play up to what the song is attempting to go for as a stand-alone piece. There’s nothing we’d want more than for Jamie-Lee, Epictronic’s resident blonde miracle, to reach that point where her music, or the music written for her, to be able to compete with the big pop/rock stars of the moment. Unfortunately on ‘Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème’ it doesn’t quite show yet, or at least not completely. Hopefully it’s merely a stepping stone to the one, that one great song. The potential and ability is certainly there, now all Jamie-Lee Smit needs is a little lighter material to sing to. 'Tu N’es Plus Mon Problème' is a song of and for survivors. Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton both survived their biggest hits and succesfully reinvented themselves as indie darlings in recent years. Jamie-Lee Smit might not be there yet, but in the meantime she’s certainly surviving.