There’s a certain kind of music that is searched for a person’s whole life. It encapsulates the sound tasted in the soul of more bluesy children’s songs sung at bedtime, sensed in the hymns of worship, and pondered in feeling during the night as one reminisces and contemplates summer and the smell of beautiful women.
JJ Grey and Mofro have exactly that.
In their latest offering, “Ol’ Glory,” they expound upon what exactly makes music feel so good: the pulsing, undulating waves of pleasure, passion, fight and pain that make you feel human, indeed, alive. In this work you are breathing, hoping, being, loving.
Make no mistake, all songs in this package at least meet the standards of what makes a good song in this author’s opinion. They all swing, bite, and flourish with time under the prospective eye of the beholder, blossoming into the scented majesty that is a complete and memorable track. And the truly great songs, the ones that spin a person on their head and force a mountaintop emulation of Ginsburg’s “Howl,” are explicitly stated here by a powerful and persuasive performance.
For example, the first half of this 12 song, 59 minute chunk of “Glory” is so heavy with songwriting prowess one might wonder whether Chester Burnett would reach from the grave to grab back the power, soul, and virtuoso in the completed cuts here.
The leadoff in “Everything is a Song” feels as if I were dancing around a jazzy campfire with a glass of my Mama’s sun tea, while the fantastic choral hook in “Every Minute” is so propelled by Grey’s Florida-back-porch-howl that one is absolutely forced to pound the pavement and clench the fist for fight and love.
While “A Night to Remember” slips in a bit of a songwriting chink in the otherwise perfect armor of this work and acts as the aforementioned bookend, the performance on this and the overall force and absolute strength of “The Island” and “Light a Candle” provide the illumination and escape needed for this effort.
The composite action of the second half of “Ol’ Grey” is that is attempts to sing you to sleep by the stomp-dancing of well done party-blues. “Turn Loose” loses no time in this, sparking guitar tones and smoothing out voice like a rocking chair bound Iggy Pop, slapping around musical gestures such as hand claps and a sidestep-and-clap beat to continue the drive of the album.
“Brave Lil’ Fighter” is one of the (several) extremely valuable tracks here that punch right through any musical wall searched for, pouring soul, blues, and rock together to elicit a murderous response from any speaker this is sent through. “Home in the Sky” is such a natural conclusion to this section of effort with its slow burn to the ending of the album, pouring out the writer’s history and name through the seconds of musical posterity here.
The final two songs are alternations of outright sonic violence and the softened need for closure within.
“Hold on Tight” and “Ol’ Glory let you know where the pain is through the accomplished and moving outward action, like a Bruce Lee kick or a sweeping prance on the skater’s ice. The instrumentation is forceful, yet is allowed to speak for itself in tonality and punch here.
“Tic Tac Toe” and “The Hurricane” were friends from the songwriter’s brain-womb, and their cleanliness shows well. These tracks belong in the heart as much as in the head, making matches with their smoothness in the dark. The light is so beautiful here, as issues such as family and general relations are explored with a new vision for a succinct conclusion.
Please just buy this album. It’s really that good. Get it here.
It’s designed for the upcoming seasons of spring and summer, to be blasted out the car window and to be handed randomly to strangers once you have gotten your taste of the soul that JJ Grey and Mofro carry here.