Ol Glory is the ninth album from Jacksonville Florida native JJ Grey and his collective Mofro a loose congregation deeply steeped in all musical roots south of the Mason Dixon. This sublime album delves head first into the heart pounding heartbeat of southern soul, gospel and funk. Recorded at his own studio Ol Glory has a distinctive live feel, I'm guessing there weren't a lot of overdubs. This band sounds like it has poured some sweat in some greasy juke joints across the south. Ol Glory picks up the diverse thread of southern music, with Grey at times extolling like the great Otis Redding and at other times slinking along the Ole Miss like Little Feat. All the while bringing that passion and intensity that Derek and The Dominoes and The Allman Brothers displayed.
That exuberance kicks off on the opener Everything Is A Song a song that basks in the glow of Memphis style horns and the vitality of gospel, it sounds like a tribute to his rural surrounds.
Now I'm rolling in her arms
She's singing to me
Every blade of grass
From every tree
My world it came alive
with the colour of spring
It's got me singing along
Cause everything is a song
The Island comes floating softly, rising up from the muddy banks of the river. The soft slide reminiscent of Duane Allman, a real penetrating deeply felt moan. A tribute to the beauty and history of the south, the vivid beauty and those who first walked and settled that mysterious southern landscape. It has a lilting accordion arrangement to compliment JJ Grey's slide.
Bone white they tell a story
Of all the slaves who graced her shores
Of cotton fields long ploughed under
A jungle now upon her shoes
Every Minute is a joyous ode to living life, it has a positive refrain to live every minute and feel the warmth of the sun. What better way to revel in this positivity than to make it sound like you are in Willie Mitchell's Memphis studio, it has that beautiful flat sound that was the benchmark of his Royal Studios.
The evil deeds that we do
Screaming from the headline
Can't stop to read or watch
Cause I ain't got the patience or time
To live a life of despair
To live by another man's word
It's always been in your hand
To live the life you want while you're here
The sly A Night To Remember is funky southern soul at it's best, Grey sounding a little like the great George Thorogood on this one. The strident Brave Lil Fighter has a more darker hue, Grey is in fine throat he has a powerful voice and the band give this song a strong backbone. If you're looking for something with passion and soul sounding fresh but with an eye and ear on the past Ol Glory is your album. The album was released in February but I didn't come across this record until I strolled into Basement Discs one lunchtime and heard The Island on the stereo I was immediately drawn my Grey's voice and the brilliant musicianship. JJ is heading to Australia in October, be sure to catch him.