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Album review

JJ Grey & Mofro 

This River

added: 10 Jun 2013 // release date: 24 Jun 2013 // label: Proper
reviewer: Andy Snipper

JJ Grey & Mofro - This River - Printable version
The only thing I’m not cetain of with this album is whether to file under Blues or soul , Grey or Mofro – apart from that there isn;y a moment on the album that isn’t a joyous celebration of American music.

The album kicks the jams right out with ‘Your Lady She’s Shady’ – sublime funky Blues with a wicked riff and stunning break that just cries out to be played loud – and often. There is even a kazoo solo for pete’s sake, just before the harmonica does a big ol’ thing.
The second track is ‘Somebody Else’ and you could swear you were listening to Bobby Womack or Jimmy Ruffin – just sublime soul played to perfection.
Now you can understand the confusion – is it soul or Blues?

The rest of the album doesn’t help either – every track is a delight but this could almost be 10 different bands.
No matter, this is just great to listen to from the first kick of ‘Your Lady ...’ through the sassy, loose soul of ‘Tame A Wild One’ or the delta Soul/Blues of ‘Florabama’. ‘the Ballad Of Larry Webb’ is the most intense number on the album and the story in the song seems to come straight from the heart of America.

Grey is a story teller and all his albums have had the sense of showing you different parts of America but here he seems to be digging into his own soul groove. The band were brought into the studio together and recorded the whole album live in the studio and you can hear it – the musicians are working with each other and creating a dense miasma of groove. In many ways this is like the Big Ol’ Nasty Getdown in the sheer togetherness and joy of the music.

Grey hails from Jacksonville Florida although he has spent a lot of time in the UK (his wife is a Londoner) and some of the recording styles sound as though they have a London influence but the music is pure American.

50 minutes of some of the best music I’ve heard this year and I’ll be surprised if I’m not voting for it in the best-of charts at the end of the year.



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5 stars

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