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Album Review: Brighter Days: The Film and Live Concert Album by JJ Grey & Mofro
Great, Based on 3 Critics
PopMatters - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Jacksonville’s JJ Grey has been delivering his brand of funky, countrified blues-rock to true-believing audiences ever since his debut album Blackwater was unleashed in 2007. Grey’s voice is soulful, scratchy and impassioned, as capable of crooning a tender ballad as unleashing a fiery torrent worthy of a hard rock band in its prime. With a string of memorable albums already under his belt that includes 2008’s Orange Blossoms and 2010’s Georgia Warhorse, Grey and his band Mofro have now released a combination live album and DVD set documenting a recent performance in Atlanta.
If you've ever seen JJ Grey & Mofro, you have an idea of what to expect from this concert-length DVD and accompanying 78-minute CD. That said, since this gig, recorded in January at Atlanta's Variety Playhouse, was pre-planned with the end result being Brighter Days, maybe you don't. For starters, there's the band. For this engagement, Mofro was a sextet that included saxophonist Art Edmaiston, trumpeter Dennis Marion, organist and pianist Anthony Farrell, drummer Anthony Cole, electric and lap steel guitarist Andrew Trube, and bassist Todd Smallie.
Mofro guitarist Andrew Trube, also of Austin funkateers Greyhounds, struggles to describe the band's sound on the video portion of this live DVD/CD. A documentary brimming with riveting concert footage recorded in Atlanta, the video portion of Brighter Days is the best calling card yet for this group's clear-eyed Southern rock and horn-laden soul. In a certain light, bandleader Grey comes across as Springsteen from the Florida swamps – in love with his roots, yet literate enough to make his message a universal one.