All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review: JJ Soul Band - Bright Lights

JJ Soul Band - Bright Lights
2009, Arizona University Records

JJ Soul Band formed in 1993 in Iceland over a partnership between Oxford, England singer/songwriter JJ Soul and Iceland composer/keyboardist Ingvi Thor Korkaksson. Three albums and fourteen years later, JJ Soul band is still creating their distinctive mix of Rock, Soul and R&B. Their fourth album, Bright Lights, was released in Europe in 2008 and sees a 2009 US release.

Bright Lights opens with At The Mall, brandishing a classic Motown/R&B beat and gentle pop hooks that will stick with you. The song itself is entertaining, following a mysterious yet whimsical chain of events as they happened to the narrator in the song. Let Love Find Us opens with the funk on guitar, horns and some unusual keyboard sounds. The rhythm here is palpable; you simply won't be able to resist, much less want to. JJ Soul has a sound that's part Warren Zevon and part Keith Grimwood from Trout Fishing In America. I've Been Bad Again gets down into the Blues featuring tight musicianship but a vocal line that just doesn't fully connect. There's a Sinatra-esque disconnection but Soul just doesn't have the charisma Sinatra had to pull it off. Getting Colder By The Year is an interesting sidebar, sounding a bit like Billy Joel accompanying Gordon Lightfoot. The song looks back on what's been lost to drink in direct terms. The song is a gorgeous soliloquy with a distinct sense of melancholy. Bright Lights could be written about most any big city, calling out the price of living in big cities to a great Blues/Rock arrangement.

I don't need to describe the rest of the album to you because I essentially already have. JJ Soul Band sticks to the mix of Early Rock, Blues, Jazz and Lounge and ends up creating a strongly homogeneous album that's solid all the way around but never seems to take risks. Bright Lights is a solid listen; I enjoyed the album, but it just doesn't stand out from the crowd in significant fashion.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about JJ Soul Band at or You can purchase a digital copy of Bright Lights at eMusic. Hard copy CDs are apparently available for sale at stores in Iceland, but no online availability could be found. If you really want a CD copy, contact the band through their MySpace page. I’m sure you can work something out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review.

Greetings from Reykjavik and Oxford

JJ Soul Band