PJ Morton: "The Piano Album" Review
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
Have you ever come across an album or project that you had no idea existed, but as soon as you played it you were simply struck with one question: "Why hadn't I heard this sooner?!" That is the exact energy I felt, when I tapped into Grammy-Award winning artist, PJ Morton and his latest project, The Piano Album! After playing the project a couple of times, I knew that this album and its messages had to be shared and discussed.
Released on Valentine's Day, The Piano Album takes listeners on this spiritual journey providing pure, raw, uncut energy. Weeks prior to acquiring his Grammy for his heartwarming, "Say So" duet (with R&B vet, JoJo) Morton locked himself and other incredible talents such as Rapsody, MusiqCity Walls, JoJo herself, and more in Hollywood, at the Conway Recording Studios to record the intimate, live, soul-warming album.
Morton sets the atmosphere for the album beginning with "Ready," a cut from his last album, PAUL. As he begins on the piano, there is just this beauty that captivates you as he begins:
"Girl, take my hand / Let me take you on a journey / let me be your man."
Morton tells this story of wanting to try love with this woman. He wants to take it to the next level but being the gentleman that he is, he will only push as much as she allows. He wants her but he needs her to be ready to receive his love. He is willing to do whatever she wants.
The project exhibits such seamlessness early on as the songs flow into one another naturally. Morton continues with a few more gems from PAUL. Immediately, on "Don't Break My Heart" we are greeted with the grit and classic Hip-Hop bars of Rapsody while Morton ministers on the lovely piano.
Morton speaks to the spirit as he sings about putting his heart on the line one more time for love. He asks his love, "Please, don't break my heart." He does not want to pressure her at all because he wants her to be confident and sure of her love for him. He cannot take another heartbreak.
From the angelic, choir-like background vocals, to Morton's superior, heavenly vocal display, the song is beautiful. From here, PJ invites the larger-than-life JoJo up to perform their lovely duet, "Say So." The way both of their voices harmonize together could literally make God smile Himself. The two deliver one of the best duets I have heard in a long time.
They both demand their partners let them know that if they love them as much both JoJo and PJ love them, then they need to simply say it. JoJo's voice is sweeter than honey and she quenches a thirst that listeners develop the moment she parts her lips. It is easily one of my favorite moments on the project. The two are quickly welcomed with a roaring thunder of applause from the audience as they finish.
Morton flashes back to the past as he performs "First Began" and "Go Thru Your Phone," both cuts from his Gumbo album. On "First Began" Morton takes us to church as he sings about the way his sweetheart makes him feel. He meshes R&B and gospel tones together flawlessly to the point you literally don't even realize he's singing about his wife. He desires for their relationship to relight that same spark they felt when they first started out in their relationship.
"Go Thru Your Phone" finds Morton showcasing more of his vulnerability as he sings about the fear of someone else having his lady's heart. He knows that with love comes imperfection but he is willing to figure life with his best friend together. He decides it's better to just not go through her phone than to find something that will essentially cause him to "catch a case." He trusts his spouse and he doesn't want to change that looking for dirt that will hurt him.
"I don't wanna go thru your phone Some things are better left unknown I rather keep livin' in my daydream Keep thinkin' that things are just what they seem"
On "Kid Again" he relays the message of reverting back into our innocent childlike selves. He sings about having the same faith, innocence and purity that we all once had as a child. He reminds us to never give up on our dreams and to never grow up.
I appreciate the fact that PJ not only provides new fans (like myself) with these new songs, but he also educates us on his past artistry. As the album continues, he digs into his vault and unloads his "Two Hearts" track from his Live From LA album as well as "Mountains and Molehills" from his Walk Alone album. Both of the records are simply anointed. They speak volumes and they literally bless listeners as they listen.
As the album nears the end, PJ ushers in that heartwarming, tear jerking gospel appeal that I love with every fiber of my being. He brings the old school church zest with "Alright" reminding us that everything is truly going to be ok. By the time we hit the MusiqCity Walls-assisted "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," it's a full out gospel moment with hand claps, soulful ad-libs, and more.
He decrees to himself and his listeners that regardless what we may endure in life, whatever is causing grief and pain, it will indeed still be alright at the end of the day. He, MusicCity Walls, & the background singers' voices take me back to my days as a youth in church with my mom, dad, aunts, and grandma. You just want to shout along with PJ as he preaches "Everything's gonna be alright!" It's literally so black, powerful, and beautiful!
That same church kid in me loses it once we reach "Let Go." Covering DeWayne Woods' "Let Go," PJ and the Walls Group anoint my entire being with his rendition of "Let Go." The execution and rawness of the acoustics leave me nearly in tears as he literally lets God use him and his beautiful craft.
He tells us to let go of everything holding us back and let God be God. This is one of my absolute favorite moments on the entire album. You can literally feel God's presence all through the track.
The momentum continues as Morton reaches the last song "How Deep Is Your Love." Tapping the talents of Alex Isley, both Isley and PJ's voices simply create utter magic. Isley's voice is literally a gift from Heaven above. The way the two minister on the song is awesome and out-of-this-world. It's nearly overwhelming but it ends The Piano Album in such a magnificent way.
Overall, The Piano Album excellently meshes both genres of Gospel and R&B creating such a marvelous blend. From beginning to end, the album is perfect. The acoustics create a personal setting that makes you feel as if you are in the studio with PJ and the others. It does not matter if you are a long-time fan or just hearing him for the first time (like myself), the music is timeless.
Each rendition is constructed in such a charming way. The album touches your heart. It is one of the purest bodies of work that I have ever heard and I'm so glad I listened. Although the songs are from previous records, they get even better as you continue to play them.
You find yourself falling in love with a different track each time you play the album. PJ, you definitely put your whole foot in this album and I am definitely excited to be a new fan!
Favorite Tracks from "The Piano Album":
1. Let Go
2. Say So
3. Kid Again
4. How Deep Is Your Love
5. Go Thru Your Phone
6. Everything's Gonna Be Alright
7. First Began