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PJ Morton- gumbo

PJ Morton, grammy nominated singer/songwriter and keyboardist of band Maroon 5 since 2012, has released his fourth solo studio album Gumbo transitioning his usual pop/R&B sound to an authentic jazz and soul encapsulating the New Orleans sound that reflects his youth. Using Motown-like instrumentals, Morton uses the contemporary R&B warmth of his voice to blend an original sound unlike any other current artist in the larger industry.

 

As the son of pastor and gospel singer Paul S Morton, Morton’s musical history radiates throughout this album by incorporating subtle gospel elements within all of the tracks using neo-soul keyboard which can be assumed that he plays himself. The upbeat and Motown-like songs like "Sticking to My Guns" and "How Deep is Your Love" subtly contrast to more pop-styled tracks like "Claustrophobic" which also contrast to the slower R&B tracks like "First Began" and "Go Thru Your Phone" (with the help of very subtle 808 beats) all while maintaining a sense of connectivity throughout the tracks crafted by his choice to include steady rhythms, warm toned brass, and occasional background vocals throughout the album. Though every song on the album has its own distinct sound, Morton intentionally bleeds melodies between tracks to weave the album together.


Lyrically, Morton discusses ranging topics from his personal relationships to the lack of creative freedom in the music industry to the role of religion and its misuse. Several years after Morton left New Orleans to pursue his music career, he recently decided to return to the city of live music and start an independent record label focusing on small local artists with a core value of creative integrity. "Claustrophobic" is a story of his disconnect to the image-heavy business of the music industry, something that the average person usually isn’t familiar with. Throughout the album however, Morton has a strong grasp on the concept of God and religion in songs like "Sticking to My Guns", "Religion", and "Alright" deflecting the idea that one can manipulate the idea of God by blaming poor actions on the religion and not oneself. Overall, though Morton doesn’t have a clear line or story throughout the album, it is quite clear that he paid particular attention to the musical qualities both during and between songs which ties the album together into one cohesive unit.

 

Rating: 9/10