TJ George – Fragmented Soul: Vol. 2
Columbus, Ohio’s TJ George (keys/vocals) offers a unique blend of soul, folk, pop, R&B that he calls his “melodic groove.” On his 4th effort & follow-up to Vol. 1 is the 6-song EP Fragmented Soul: Vol. 2 (drops June 26 – Independent).
Track 1 comes galloping in with the rhythmic soulful “Can’t Move Fast Enough,” a Sam Cooke mixed with Angelo Bond vocal warmth that’s unflinching. No showboating just an old-fashioned distinctive tune that sweeps up in its retro R&B purity — sufficiently modernized in the hands of TJ.
TJ says the music represents the dichotomy that dwells in him. Music shaped by multiple inspirations from addiction (“Gonna Be Good”), relationships (“Skin Lovers”), the late painter Bob Ross (“Can’t Move Fast Enough”) & a conversation overheard in a bar (“Call of the Wild”).
While TJ has sufficient vocal emotion (“Clayton Jones Is Gonna Be Big”) he isn’t a strong aggressive vocalist. He strides through when he should run. Each song is in a moderate tempo sung in a voice pleasant enough but lacks character. His vocal doesn’t have an identity like John Prine, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder. Does it matter? Maybe not. The arrangements are spare, but they’re melodic & work. TJ gets what he needs to say with his necessary obligatory style. His voice accomplishes what it needs to. It’s the band that needs arrangements with a little more flexing.
“Skin,” is laid back with electric piano & backup singers on valium. TJ sings & emotes well even when he sings in falsetto, but the female voices need caffeine. Listen to Alda Reserve’s “Ancient Lies,” or “Pain Is Mine” for backup effectiveness. TJ’s song itself is good with faithful lyrics. It just needs muscle — lift.
The musicians: Joshua Seurkamp (drums), Byron House (bass), Ric Hordinski (Guitars), Kenny White (Keys on “Can’t Move Fast Enough”) & Shiloh Hawkins (backup vocals).
“Gonna Be Good,” would’ve been more effective if the dialogue is eliminated. Sing the song. The writing, lyrics & tune are good, but TJ is not Lou Rawls (“Dead End Street – Monologue”). There’s no drama. The song itself has potency. I found the dialogue well-intentioned, but it allowed the song to lose momentum. The performance has room for the musicians to let loose, but they don’t.
The final track – “Call of the Wild,” is exceptional. The music is still laid back, but it has suspense. TJ’s vocals are most effective here. This has teeth, has a modicum of excitement. TJ’s tinkling electric piano takes a page from Brad Ellis’ melodic ’79 songs from an Alda Reserve LP (“Love Goes On”). They used an electric piano effectively & their songs also were suspenseful & arranged cleverly.
With “Call of the Wild,” this is where TJ could & should be. The 23-minute CD was produced by Ric Hordinski. Available at Amazon.