The soul swing singer/songwriter straight outta Jacksonville, Florida scores his seventh astounding studio album in the form of This River.
Following 2010’s acclaimed Georgia Warhorse, John ‘JJ’ Grey brings us more of his own brand of meticulous and sensuous storytelling in the form of twisting tales and tantalisingly tasty vocals, inspired by the region he grew up in. JJ’s dramatically growling chords, satisfyingly gritty and smooth all at once, are akin to that of the legendary serenading tones of Al Green. Influenced by artists such as Big Bad John and Jim Reeves’ style of story songwriting, Grey also credits southern rock acts like Jerry Reed and more soulful performers such as Toots Hibbert as affecting and stimulating the growth of his style of music.
Bombastic opener Your Lady, She’s Shady gives a hammer of a first impression, crossing Black Crowes with early Chili Peppers over Stevie Wonder funk. One deeper, Tame A Wild One offers a catchy sing-along chorus that could easily find its way into the Great American Songbookand remains firmly on point. Somebody Else features an achingly awesome guitar backbone that is begging to be in a Kill Bill movie, with a bass line and drum beat full of funk, all the while being backed by sincerely soulful vocals.
Unlike acts such as Florence and The Machine, in which The Machine refers to the accompanying musicians, the name Mofro was coined by JJ Grey as an explanation of the sound that the band made. Still none the wiser as to what exactly this term means, we’re happy to make our own assumptions and are happily agog at Grey’s talents.
Providing a sorely needed injection of laid back old school cool in the midst of a procession of endless hyped up dance tracks and overplayed pop, This River is arguably the record of the summer. A swarthy combination of blues, funk, soul, and rock adds a pinch of Southern spice to sweltering summer days.