Album Reviews

JJ Grey & Mofro – This River (Alligator Records)

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JJ Grey and Mofro This River reviewWith each new album, it seems JJ Grey is just getting better. As a songwriter, as a vocalist and as a musician, he remains adventurous and fascinating. Backed by his band Mofro, JJ has done as much as anyone to carry the torch of Southern rock, at times evoking The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Band—even James Brown inasmuch as he has a predilection for punchy horn arrangements. However, everything he writes and records carries the unmistakable touch of the man himself. The north Florida swamp that produced JJ Grey oozes out of each and every song.

This River may just be the funkiest, hardest-rocking and emphatic JJ Grey album to date. Though he is often billed to play alongside jam bands, on songs like “Floribama,” JJ Grey and Mofro sound more like Tower of Power or Prince than they do a Southern rock group. On “Harp and Drums,” we get a taste of what its like when the band stretches out, but otherwise the album is largely lyrically grounded as on the heartfelt “Tame a Wild One.”

One would be hard pressed to think of a more authentic songwriter with as much musical ability as JJ Grey. There is an amazing breadth to a man who has the prescience to speak so sagely through his music from the humble pulpit of the Florida swamp.

– Eric Russ

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