Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

While the music world has been listening to Jessica Simpson since the late 1990s, never has it had the chance to truly hear her. The pop songbird seeks to change that with the Aug. 19 release of her third Columbia album, "In This Skin."

The new set, which showcases Simpson's lyrical skills for the first time, offers a crystal ball gaze inside her marriage to fellow pop idol Nick Lachey and the emotions behind finding the love of a lifetime.

"When I'm in love, I want to go to the top of a mountain and scream it out to the world," Simpson says. "I was always shy about expressing my own point of view, but now, I think I have things figured out as a woman, and I want to give fans a piece of my heart and soul. Making this record was a great experience -- not to mention wonderful therapy."

Simpson's first album, 1999's "Sweet Kisses" -- led by the No. 3 debut single, "I Wanna Love You Forever" -- sold 1.8 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. 2001's "Irresistible" lagged, with sales of 630,000.

"It was a painful ordeal," Simpson says. "I came to the realization that I needed to show the world who I am, to be a true artist... This album really represents who I am."

Like the first effort, Simpson's soaring vocals give "Skin" a smooth touch, as it sways between spirited midtempo melodies and her signature ballads.

Simpson collaborated with songwriter Diane Warren and producer Ric Wake for the sensuous first single, "Sweetest Sin." The song (whose videoclip casts Simpson and Lachey in a number of provocative scenarios) "truly represents my album; nothing negative, it's all about love," she says.

Simpson also worked with writers Andy Marvel, Billy Mann, Holly Lamar, Denise Rich, Trina Harmon and Damon Elliott.

Among the most expressive tracks on "Skin" are the reverent love song and quintessential Simpson ballad "I Have Loved You"; the confessional "Underneath," which recalls a four-month period where Simpson and Lachey called it quits, then -- in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 -- realized the value of making a relationship work; and the title track, a plucky pop anthem about self-acceptance.

"'In This Skin' was so important for me to share with my fans," Simpson says of the title track. "I was 102 pounds, and people at the record label were telling me that I needed to lose weight. The song is saying that I am worthy to feel beautiful in my skin. It's something that every woman experiences in one way or another."

In addition to the album, Simpson and Lachey launched "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica" on MTV the same day as the album's release. The weekly reality series showcases all sides of the couple's lives together, from the recording of their albums (Lachey's "SoulO" will be released on Universal Sept. 19) to glam industry parties to the ups and downs of married life at home in Los Angeles.

"You'll see us at a Hollywood premiere in one scene and then eating tuna fish on the sofa in the next," Simpson says. "The cameras have been with us for three months now, from 8 a.m. until we go to sleep. We have all the fights all newlyweds have, and yet the whole celebrity existence is a funny lifestyle to see."

In addition, according to her manager and father Joe Simpson, the singer has been cast in an upcoming Marvel Comics-based action adventure film, due for summer 2004 release. She is also in discussions for lead roles in movie versions of "Bye Bye Birdie" and "I Dream of Jeannie."





Excerpted from the Aug. 23, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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