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J.J. Grey & Mofo – Orange Blossoms

 

JJ Grey continues a long line of singer/songwriters who grew up in the South and soaked up everything that makes music from that region so unique. On his second effort for Alligator, Grey proves adept at soul, R&B, rock, country, and gospel, interchanging parts of each.

The title cut is a punchy soul tune with a guitar figure that revolves around the whole song. The skilled songwriter, singer, and guitarist offers proof he knows his way around a studio, too, with cuts like “The Devil You Know” and its too-hot-in-the-right-way vocal. A bit of distortion sounds perfect and sums up a lot of parts on the album, sonically and otherwise. “On Fire” is funk a la Sly Stone, with big bass and slinky guitar. Grey’s vocal leads into a sparse, soulful guitar solo full of sweet bends. “Ybor City” has a funky guitar figure that sets up the song the way John Lee Hooker’s guitar figures used to set up his songs before it morphs into jazz with nice stop-time punches. Another nice part of this record is the addition of a string section on several of the songs. Put with the slow, bluesy funk and Grey’s falsetto vocal, the strings are like the topping on a good bowl of ice cream.

Grey’s singing has always been soulful and full of life. Here, his writing and playing are growing in the same way.


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This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.


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