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Album Review: J Moss – Grown Folks Gospel

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O

Gospel music veteran J Moss is known for his amazing vocal acrobatics, as well as his blood lineage to the Clark sisters and Gospel music legend Mattie Moss-Clark. Coming from such an awesome musical background, it’s no wonder that J. Moss has four top selling solo albums under his belt. But if you were to take a look at those previous albums, you would notice that his 5th solo album is noticeably different than all of his past work. With the title, Grown Folks Gospel, J. Moss has done what few dare to do within the Gospel music genre: Challenge the status quo. Allow me to elaborate on what “Grown Folks Gospel” brings itself to mean.

Societal Definitions

When you hear the word Gospel, most people think of a sound/style of music, mostly being sung by those of African American descent. This thought/definition at its base is completely incorrect, as Gospel as defined by our Christian faith, is the good news of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and anything related to it/Him. With this album, J. Moss has decided to directly challenge people’s mindset on what Gospel is to sound like.

The definition normally attributed to the term “Grown folks” when dealing with music, is two-fold – as it means both the sound and lyrical content. The lyrics are usually about love between two people (usually two people who aren’t married), and the music is usually more of a soulful sound, made of live instruments and hardly any synthesized sounds. By taking these two terms away from their normal societal definitions, J Moss has created an album with closer connection to what these two phrases should mean.

The term “Grown Folks” applies to this album completely from a musical standpoint. From the first down beat on the intro track “Your Work,” you are immediately transported to a soulful club/lounge with the live drums, bass accompaniment, and strumming jazz guitar. J Moss’ production team PAJAM produced many of the songs on this project, but whoever else they got to play along with them, created some of the smoothest grooves I’ve heard in a long time.

Lyrically, the content was gospel. Each song on this album was clearly made about the Lord and you can tell. Songs like “Pour Into Me”, “Your Work”, and “Nothing”, just to name a few, combine great musical tracks with choruses that lead you into clear declarations to God. You’re enjoying the music so much that you don’t realize how long you’ve been singing things like “Pour into me the likeness of you. Give me your strength Lord that I can make it through,” along with the song. All of the songs have the capacity to draw you in with the music, but make you stay because of the words.

The words themselves aren’t filler either. Much of the “Gospel” genre is full of cliches about increase or breakthrough and the like. But this album is, for the majority, a vertical piece of work – vertical meaning “aimed or directed to God. There are only two songs that can be seen as inspirational in its meaning. One is the track “You Make Me Feel,” featuring Faith Evans, which can be thought about as a love song, whether to God or to a significant other. While “Alright Ok” feels like a general uplifting song to a weary soul.

Grown Folks Music

If you’ve heard music that came from the Gospel genre over the past 15 – 20 years, you are always able to tell because it has a certain sound to it. Whether the album is recorded live or in a studio, there is a general composition that has stayed constant through the years. J Moss has fallen into this category himself in the past, but with this album, he has proved that he is much more than just another singer who can bang out popular gospel tracks. While the regular connotation that comes with the phrase “Grown Folks” had me worried upon first approach, his musical direction quickly explained the title.

I’m trying to write this portion without exploding with praise for the musicality of this album, but I can’t! As a musician, I was almost going crazy at how great these songs sounded. It was refreshing to have songs that were about God sound so good! So many of the songs grooves moved me to bob my head along. I could imagine how J Moss could easily rock/sell out a concert/festival that was aimed at the “Grown & Holy” saints. Both the demographic that this album was specifically aimed at (Grown Folks), as well as lovers of great music, not restricted by age, will really enjoy the arrangements and how well this project was mixed in the studio.

A welcome change to J Moss’ past is that a majority of the songs don’t sound like the “typical J Moss track.” J’s clear approach to have a different music style gave the whole project a new feel. There are three songs that have a resemblance to the normal J Moss flow – “Alright Ok”, “Beyond My Reach”, and “Fall At Your Feet.” But these are not complete regressions, as even these familiar-sounding songs have been affected by the progression that J Moss’ musicality has taken.

Conclusion

With features from PJ Morton on “Nothing”, Fred Hammond on “Beyond My Reach”, gospel group 21:03 on “Everyday”, and jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale on “Hanging On”, this album doesn’t feel like a typical gospel album, and that’s a good thing! For a world that is crying for diversity in its music, to not let genres be a restrictive box that hinders creativity, Grown Folks Gospel is one of the few albums that I feel has successfully broken out of a very restrictive, boxed-in genre.

Whether others will follow is yet to be seen, but by one like J. Moss, who has already been successful in that industry, being brave enough to make that step, I believe that the community as a whole will be more accepting to other projects like this in the future. If you love live music, if you like songs that are about the Lord, and if you like music that is easy to catch on to, then I recommend Grown Folks Gospel, no matter your age.

J Moss’ Grown Folks Gospel is set to be released Tuesday, November 25, and is now available for pre-order on iTunes.

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Daniel Cody is the engineer for the Wade-O Radio podcast and producer of The Life Change radio program for 4th Generation Ministries. He has a Bachelors Degree in Music Production & Record Engineering. He has a passion for authentic rap about the Gospel and collaborates with all genres of Christian music with his production company - Man of God Productions. Follow him on Twitter @DRoyulMOG.

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