Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Jessica Mauboy – Little Things

Sorry for reminding you of that One Direction song…


Nortey Dowuona: Loping, protective piano chords wrap softly around Jessica Mauboy’s honeyed crooning as soft, wavering bass cellos and drifting drums hover behind then wash away as a chorus of Jessica supports her through the last steps. She closes the chapter quietly, a troubled look on her face.

Michael Hong: It must be a cliche at this point to set an emotive piece to piano and have maudlin strings entering right after the first chorus in some effort to pull a tearjerker. But Jessica Mauboy’s found a way to make it work, and when she sings “the little things mean so much more,” it feels reflective of how she blows so much emotion into this minimalist ballad. “Little Things” is a deeply pretty track and a wonderful showcase for Mauboy’s soulful and emotive voice. I just wish that the whole thing didn’t remind me of a Dove commercial from the moment she sings “you don’t think I’m pretty.”

Jessica Doyle: This is actually a pretty decent portrait of what it’s like to be fed up with doing all the emotional labor in the relationship, but I wish it weren’t a piano ballad, I wish it weren’t so trudgingly paced, and speaking of labor, I wish Jessica Mauboy could have the kind of contract that would give her two weeks’ paid leave just for having to put up with those eyelashes.

Edward Okulicz: “Little Things” certainly has a great and sympathetic performance pulling it, willing it to connect on the grand scale that is clearly the intention. But it has a reek of mawkishness that means I can’t warm to it, and when I watch the video the whole package seems like overacting, and I fear my moderately positive overall impression is just because I like Mauboy as a personality, even as I know that showing that the song means something is necessary but not sufficient for making it mean something to everyone.

Will Adams: At least Leona Lewis had the benefit of an active rhythm section. Jessica tries and tries, but there’s only so much one can achieve when handed a damp ballad that’s all gesture, no impact.

Vikram Joseph: Jessica Mauboy’s vocal reach is fantastic on the last chorus, but that’s about as nice a thing as I can find to say about this plaintive, unimaginative piano ballad. Being critical about something this startlingly earnest feels a bit like berating a puppy, so I’ll leave it there.

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