Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

JJ GREY & MOFRO

THE RIVER

2013-03-31

Kicking things off with the tough, sinewy "Your Lady, She's Shady", which features an expose of a buddy's lady as little more than a dog in heat, JJ Grey & Mofro weigh in with another slab of swampy southern-fried soul, blues and rock. With a soulful horn section and keys adding color to the grooves, the disc treads the back roads between Memphis and Muscle Shoals with Booker T & the MG's, The Stones, The Black Crowes, the Drive By Truckers and even Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers as mile markers along the way. That's not to say that this crew is derivative of any of them: only that they lay down grooves that would fit in well with some of their best work. Throughout, Grey turns a sharp eye towards situations that strike a common chord. "Tame a Wild One" is a horn driven look at the tragic waste of a relationship that comes from trying to impose an iron fist on a free spirit while "99 Shades of Crazy" is a first person account of someone who isn't willing to agree to disagree and is ready to settle the issues in dispute with whatever force is necessary. He's not just a fighter though: "Write A Letter" starts as a low key ballad but morphs into a majestic anthem as Grey attempts to will a letter home to his baby. "Florabama" is a slinky ode to the infamous bar that straddles the Florida and Alabama state lines in the Gulf of Mexico where the parties get fueled by the sticky gulf breezes. "Harp & Drums" is just plain sticky with its distorted vocals and chattering horns, harmonica and guitar. Turning reflective, on The "Ballad of Larry Webb", Grey sticks up for a simple man who lacked the trappings of success but lived happily, honestly and fully. The title track finds Grey latching onto a home town river as a centering point for the craziness in his life. With solid writing, terrific grooves and earnest, emotion-laden vocals this is another top notch set. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.