Monday, July 22, 2013

This River reviewed by Diane Mandell

This River
JJ Grey & Mofro
Alligator Records
10 tracks/47:58

Raised in Jacksonville, FL, JJ Grey made his record debut in 2001 with Blackwater.  "The River" is his sixth studio album.  The album is named for the St. John's River near his hometown.  Many of his songs portray his love for the North Florida wilderness.  Although he doesn't consider himself an environmentalist, Grey works with multiple water and game conservation groups.  Most tracks were recorded live at a studio in Saint Augustine and at Grey's home studio named, "The Egg Room".

Many of Grey's songs have appeared in film and television including "House", "Crash", "Flashpoint" and "The Hoot".  In 2009, he wrote his first film score for the Emmy Award winning documentary, "The Good Soldier".

Grey has toured on four continents and shared stages with The Allman Brothers, BB King, Ben Harper, Jeff Beck, Mavis Staples, Booker T. Jones, to name a few.  When asked about his past or future plans, he's quoted as saying, "I'm just a salmon swimming upstream.  Going back home, I reckon.  I don't know why and I quit caring why a long time ago.  I guess there is no 'why' that my mind could understand anyway.  All I do know is that I've enjoyed and I'm still enjoying every second of just being here and doing whatever it is I'm doing."

"The River" is a relatively long album, nearly 50 minutes, with most songs five minutes or more in length.  There are lots of different instruments at work on this album along with various vocals.  In my opinion, the best tracks are "The Ballad of Larry Webb", a song about a man who found joy in spite of his unenviable simple life and the title track with its minimalist guitar and soulful lyrics about the healing power of Grey's beloved river.  
Produced by Dan Prothero and JJ Grey
All tracks except "On The Edge" written and arranged by JJ Grey
JJGrey:  Lead and Backing Vocals, Electric Guitar, Harmonica, Tambourine, Bass, Acoustic 6- & 12-String Guitar
Andrew Trube:  Electric Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Anthony Farrell:  Organ, Piano, Clavinet, Electric Guitar
Todd Smallie:  Bass
Anthony Cole:  Drums, Organ
Art Edmaiston:  Tenor and Baritone Sax
Dennis Marion:  Trumpet
Stan Lynch:  Special Guest Shaker

Reviewed by Diane Mandell

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