P J Morton - Perfect Song (2007)

P J Morton
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P.J. Morton is a tough act to follow...even for P.J. Morton. His solo debut album, Emotions, was arguably the best adult soul CD of 2005, a deliciously understated album that combined Morton's keen sense of melody with an endearing, slightly underground feel. But Morton immediately appeared uncomfortable with audiences expecting a stream of mellow, acoustic songs in his concerts. He increasingly filled his shows with harder-edged, rock influenced material, often leading off his shows with the defiant "In A Box," a heavy-metal song aimed at those whom he felt were categorizing him musically because of the mellow nature of his debut album or because of his lineage (he's the son of noted minister Paul Morton).

P.J. Morton is a tough act to follow...even for P.J. Morton. His solo debut album, Emotions, was arguably the best adult soul CD of 2005, a deliciously understated album that combined Morton's keen sense of melody with an endearing, slightly underground feel. But Morton immediately appeared uncomfortable with audiences expecting a stream of mellow, acoustic songs in his concerts. He increasingly filled his shows with harder-edged, rock influenced material, often leading off his shows with the defiant "In A Box," a heavy-metal song aimed at those whom he felt were categorizing him musically because of the mellow nature of his debut album or because of his lineage (he's the son of noted minister Paul Morton).

Morton's sophomore release, Perfect Song, demonstrates his further attempt to distance himself from the acoustic troubadour of 2005. Now redubbed The PJ Morton Band, PJ and company consciously frontload Perfect Song with uptempo cuts. While noted pianist/singer John Legend used 60s grooves as the principal influence for his recent Once Again album, Morton appears to have found inspiration in early 70s rock and pop. Opening tracks "Risk" and "Make Her Mine" mimic the bouncy songs of one hit pop wonders of that era; "Runnin" echoes the opening of the Cornelius Brothers' "Too Late To Turn Back Now"; and the title cut sounds like Elton John, circa 1975. Combined with a diverse tracks ranging from the Living Colour-like "In A Box" to the duet cover (with Algebra) of his own acoustic soul gem, "Blah Blah Blah," it all makes for an eclectic and mildly disjointed effort.

What ultimately saves Perfect Song is Morton's uncanny sense of a hook. So even rather undeveloped songs like "Mary" and "Start Over Again" stick in your head, and stronger tracks, such as "Here For You" and "Runnin," are memorable radio-worthy gems. Morton is clearly an engaging artist who is still searching for his sound. His search here results in a somewhat scattered disc that is nonetheless enjoyable due to the sheer immensity of his talent. One can't help but feel he'll ultimately find a sound that will allow him to stretch, but which may lead him past the experiments of Perfect Song and closer to the melodic, musically consistent soul sound that made his debut disc a nearly perfect album.

By Chris Rizik

 
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