After experiencing a pretty great sounding preview of PJ Morton’s album, “New Orleans”, we at the Couch Sessions were invited to get a live taste of the tracks in the Hamptons. So we grabbed our best pair of flip-flops hitchhiked our way past various white parties to catch the show.
While lord knows an opportunity to hang out in the Hamptons is a tedious and horrible affair (too many happy people for this writer’s taste) we did it because PJ Morton is something special. While most of the press around his music seems to work in the angle that he’s Maroon 5’s keyboardist PJ is an accomplished R&B musician in his own right. What makes him particularly interesting is his award winning work in gospel music; the training grounds where pretty much all-successful R&B acts honed their craft.
Unlike many of those acts, Morton hasn’t abandoned those roots for secular music, freely switching between both roles during both his career. Hell, he even wrote a book about it entitled, “Why Can’t I Sing About Love”. The ongoing dichotomy is that it’s what makes him special, his brand of R&B just seems more dense, layered and deeper then his peers. Something that would come off as a VH1 Soul snoozer has shifting pieces of elements that push it over the top, check the chugging guitars that come in subtly 2/3rds in.
Even Lil Wayne stumbling through a mediocre Drake impression can’t really ruin the fact that even a modern R&B pandering track (with autotune!) carries these same elements.
This is more apparent live, where the years of playing gospel shines through. Songs are slower, groovier. Even with a stripped down two-piece backing band the music is commanding and he’s got great stage presence despite his nebbish look. He kicks off a small tour to promote his solid new album, “New Orleans”, after playing Essense Music Festival where plenty of panties will be thrown.