Album review

JJ Voss – Come Along with Me

Come Along With Me, the latest from Saskatoon country artist JJ Voss, gives the listener a lot to sink their teeth into.

Right off the hop, you can tell it’s a country album. In addition to all the requisite instruments, including pedal steel, it’s got the right balance of twang and modern sophistication, like Restless Heart, Charlie Major, or Doc Walker. It’s uptempo, loaded with catchy melodies, and sing-a-long choruses – a sound that is quickly becoming a hallmark of producer Murray Pulver, the Doc Walker guitarist with a brag sheet a mile long.  

The clean notes are a perfect pairing with JJ’s earthy voice; somewhere between Travis Tritt and Canadian blues artist Matt Anderson, it has just enough gravel to let you know he’s real country. Getting Charlie Major to sing with you, and co-writing with Mike Plume and Patricia Conroy certainly add to one’s country cred too.

But the real story lies in the songs, which were written while JJ was bedridden for a year due to back surgery. During that time, he was able to experience the world only through television and social media. He soaked it all in, the divisiveness, the anger, how impersonal and disconnected it can be, and put it into perspective in song.

“Thoughts and Prayers” was inspired by politicians’ lip service to victims of violence. But rather than being baited by the negativity, JJ turns it into resolve and personal growth.

“The Kind of Man” feels like an epiphany, a conscious decision to be the bigger man, to take the high road. And it’s simply a beautiful song, one that could very easily be a Kenny Chesney chart-topping ballad.

The title track is an invitation to everyone to join this journey of enlightenment.

JJ flexes division into celebration of uniqueness in “Some People,” reminding us that we’re all different, just like everyone else.

“Black and Blue,” and “You and Me” are sweet reminders that family is what is truly important to us all and that our most cherished memories stem from the human touch, not likes and retweets on the electronic screen. JJ has a gentle way of making his point, never preaching or lecturing, more like a sigh of “I’m done with fighting. Let’s just enjoy one another.”

“Come Along With Me” is a journey every real country music fan will enjoy, and its positive-but-not naive message that we can rise above the negativity together is something everyone could use these days.

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