Review: JJ Grey & Mofro – This River
Posted on: Thursday, Jun 27, 2013
JJ Grey & Mofro – This River
(Alligator Records: ALCD 4953)
The ’14-legged groove machine’ that is JJ Grey & Mofro continue to go from strength to strength on “This River”, their latest release on Alligator Records, officially released in the UK this week. Led by the brilliant Grey himself on vocals, guitar, harmonica and more, the band deliver their customary eclectic mix of blues, funk, swampy soul and more on this 10-track collection.
The man from the swamps of Florida has surrounded himself with a settled line-up now, namely: Andrew Trube (guitars), Anthony Farrell (keyboards), Todd Smallie (bass), Anthony Cole (drums), Art Edmaiston (saxophone) and Dennis Marion (trumpet) . . . the outfit who I was privileged to witness live in Manchester last year, and deliver one of the best shows I’ve ever seen!
The whole ensemble start in funky mode with the strutting “Your Lady, She’s Shady”, which is followed by the souful “Somebody Else”, with its punchy horns and fine guitar solo from Andrew Trube. Of course it goes without saying that JJ Grey’s writing is of the highest calibre throughout, coupled with his incredible voice. The third tune in, “Tame A Wild One” being a perfect example, with its Southern soul leanings, and the horns again to the fore, giving it a somewhat Muscle Shoals swampy feel.
“99 Shades Of Crazy” is driven by Anthony Farrell’s piano and the punch ‘engine room’ of Todd Smallie and Anthony Cole . . . it’s another uptempo soulful tune. Grey and the band take the pace down on the delightful acoustic number, “The Ballad Of Larry Webb”, based, I guess, on a character from Grey’s Florida homeland . . . it’s a beauty, with true heartache in the voice. The funky as hell “Florabama” – the Florida/Alabama coastal border – hits a hell of a groove, with tasteful horns, lovely harmonies – this will be a ‘killer’ live!
Elsewhere “Standing On The Edge” has a lovely guitar hook to it, coupled with JJ Grey’s vocal make it another gem; the gentle “Write A Letter” is again in that classic soulful area, with crystal-clear vocal from the man. “Harp & Drums” has just plenty of that; it’s a driving blues with JJ Grey on harmonica, and some nice funky guitar from Trube. This great release ends with the title cut, “This River”, opening with some sweet acoustic guitar and another vocal ‘from the heart’ . . . another tune inspired by the area Grey hails from, and its people . . . just lovely.
JJ Grey & Mofro hit the UK in July for just four dates, I would suggest if you haven’t seen them, get to it . . . a treat is in store.
The album is available in the UK through Proper Records, on CD and vinyl – www.propermusic.com