K'Jon - Moving On (2012)

K'Jon
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To those who haven’t heard him before, K’Jon might come across as embodying the prototype of a typical R&B crooner, but one listen is enough to recognize that there’s something more earnest and organic going on behind the suits and shades, partially due to his grit-filled, gut-stirring vocals and the near-decade of toiling he went through to procure some shine in the music biz. 2009’s lilting, longing-filled smash, “The Ocean,” was a well-deserved reward after non-stop grinding independently in his hometown of Detroit, exposing the masses to his urban-edged sensitivity and building high hopes for a follow-up, which he fulfills (for the most part) in his second widely-released collection, Moving On.

To those who haven’t heard him before, K’Jon might come across as embodying the prototype of a typical R&B crooner, but one listen is enough to recognize that there’s something more earnest and organic going on behind the suits and shades, partially due to his grit-filled, gut-stirring vocals and the near-decade of toiling he went through to procure some shine in the music biz. 2009’s lilting, longing-filled smash, “The Ocean,” was a well-deserved reward after non-stop grinding independently in his hometown of Detroit, exposing the masses to his urban-edged sensitivity and building high hopes for a follow-up, which he fulfills (for the most part) in his second widely-released collection, Moving On.

Apparently, even a larger scale of fame and some hard-won success couldn’t shield the rain from falling on K’Jon’s hit parade, because this set feels twice as heavy as its predecessor: “Gotta keep moving, gotta keep moving on/gotta keep fighting, ain’t no sense in me crying,” he muses in its stark and keyboard-driven intro, vague about whether he’s addressing a toxic relationship or a bad business deal, “Life is always full of adjustments: one door may close, all you gotta do is find the one that’s open.”

K’Jon wasn’t ever much for the flossing and glossing (which makes sense, given the presently precarious state of affairs in the Motor City), so the furtive flashes of optimism displayed in Moving On are placed parallel alongside more somber moments, surfacing in numbers like “No Pressure,” a deft uptempo groove about wanting a deeper connection even as he backpedals from messy details and ‘what-ifs’: “I’m not looking for perfection/but I don’t want no second-guessing/if we’re gonna spend the rest of our lives/ain’t no pressure girl/let’s make it right.” “The Reason” comes off like a whimsical, wind-swept ballad at first, but it’s actually filled with a steely resolve about reaching his goals in spite of the doubts being hurled his way: “You should never ever tell a grown man what he should not do/for he just might do what you told him not to do/and he just may succeed at everything you wanted to be.”

The sinewy self-assurance of the former is in stark contrast to the vulnerability seeping through “Will You Be There,” a quiet-storm-worthy ballad that pleads for comfort and sustenance in the midst of his angst and apprehensions, but it fuels other tracks in aplomb, such as the stirring and sincere “My Lil Sister,” a words of warning by a loving man who’s peeped the game on a no-good one: “You’re so special, why do you really want some ghetto….and it seems like, you’re the only one in his life/It’s not okay, for you to stay home while he plays….I’m not a hater, I’m just telling you what it is/He’s just a player, I’m just looking out for my lil sister.” In fact, sweet songs like “Take This Dollar” and “SuperMomma,” where he and his family all give praise to a devoted and resourceful parent, make up for the superficiality in “Ex Amnesia” and “Bad Gurl” (how many more “I-can-love-you-better–than-the-last-dude”  and “I’m-in-the-club-looking-for-a-freak” songs do we really need?).

In spite of elements of predicability on the production side and an irritating over-abundance of Auto-Tune, K’Jon proves that his building buzz isn’t a lucky fluke and that his talents in songwriting and execution should keep the spotlight on his inevitable rise, rather than hastily (pardon the pun) Moving On to the next probable contender. Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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