JJ Grey and Mofro: This River Review

After a decade of touring and five studio records in the bag, JJ Grey (with supporting band Mofro) releases his sixth studio album April 16, and it is a record worthy of a good listen. The album is named for the St. John’s River, a waterway near Grey’s hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Fans will know all this and likely have already caught the album streaming on Spotify, but for the uninitiated here is our perspective.

Since his recording debut in 2001 with his first release Blackwater, Grey has steadily built up a solid fan base through a combination of regular releases and relentless touring and festival appearances. Along the way, he’s honed his band’s lineup – finding the perfect mix of talent he calls “the creme de la crème” – and even had a mini-documentary made about him and his work on Georgia Warhorse, his most recent studio album prior to This River.

But what does the new album actually sound like? This River carries sentiments of the band’s earlier sound, intermittently languid and lively, tempered with tracts of traditional southern blues styles. The band doesn’t overshadow Grey, but doesn’t get lost in the background, either. The whole unit works like a well-oiled machine, powerfully spilling out their magic over the canvas of the record’s 49-minute duration. The group manages to be simultaneously cohesive and creative, finding ways of entertaining throughout while wrapping the whole experience up in bands of familiarity and fond reminiscence.

This River is not only a title indicative of location, but of method and arrangement as well. The record twists and turns through ten beefy tracks to serve up a uniquely satisfying sojourn of southern blues delivered through passion and heartfelt musicianship. Just like a river, it serves as functional and transportive. It continually entices while bringing the listener through its myriad of redirections to an expanded sea of understanding, marked by the milestone of the ending title track, a look back on the journey that was embarked upon. This river takes you places.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Somebody Else
– 99 Shades of Crazy
– Standing on the Edge
– This River

The Big Hit

– This River

Review by Tyler Quiring

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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