Jessica Mauboy has Beyoncé-level command of her divine instrument

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Jessica Mauboy has Beyoncé-level command of her divine instrument

Jessica Mauboy Yours Forever
Words by Bryget Chrisfield

Did you catch Jessica Mauboy’s performance on New Year’s Eve?

Wowee! Boasting a once-in-a-generation voice, Mauboy is both luminous and endearing; we personally reckon she’s on the cusp of global superstardom.

The follow-up to her chart-topping 2019 album HILDA, Yours Forever – which she created alongside some big names in songwriting/production, including Pnau’s Nick Littlemore and Styalz Fuego (one of Troye Sivan’s fave collaborators) – unpacks Mauboy’s “feelings of not being worthy, and coming to a place of knowing, a confirmation that I am enough”.

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“Mutual obsession/ I admit it, baby, I got tunnel vision looking at you/ Looking at me like you never seen something so beautiful…” – opener Yours Forever is a declaration of love, resplendent with church organ, gorge harmonies and minimal backing.

Self-described “healing song” and lead single Give You Love – Mauboy’s duet with fellow The Voice Australia coach, Jason Derulo – is an uplifting, gospel choir-enhanced gift; straight to the Spiritual Wellbeing playlist! “You don’t wanna see me angry [pause]/ But I am” – as well as those enviable, smoked-caramel vocals, The Loneliest I Ever Was also spotlights Mauboy’s exceptional interpretive ability; every single syllable that escapes her lips drips with heartfelt meaning. “It took me way too long to see the truth/ ‘Cause the loneliest I ever was/ Was when I was with you…” – Mauboy gets real here, pouring out her pain.

Her fifth album finds Mauboy unfiltered and unafraid to delve into more diaristic storytelling, and she’s acknowledged “…it has a depth that I’ve never gone to or shared before”. But there are also playful moments, including the exhilarating Flashback, which is based on Mauboy and her now-hubby’s meet-cute: while playing truth or dare with her girlfriends in a Darwin nightclub, she cheekily pinched him on the butt! Her escalating, post-chorus, “Woah-oh-oh-Oh-OOOH!”s during this one are dazzling.

Quite Like You, a sparsely accompanied piano ballad, showcases Mauboy’s vocal majesty to perfection – we’re talking Beyoncé-level command of her divine instrument. “In the bedroom/ Looking in the mirror/ You’re a bad bitch/ Now go out and tell ‘em/ You deserve it all, baby/ Yes you do…” – standout track Tell ‘Em is giving Self-Empowered Boss Bitch.

Powerful resilience anthem Never Giving Up (“Don’t let ’em take away, they’ll never take it/ Your voice, just let them hear you sing it…”) is a soundtrack for dancing the pain away while dreaming of a better future for First Nations peoples: “Native tongue, native land/ Native blood, it’s on their hands.” Then the record dovetails neatly with Yours Truly, which reprises the opening title track.

Yours Forever finds this proud Kuku Yalanji woman cosy with who she is and ready to claim her rightful place in the spotlight.