Bringing Smoky, Smoochy and Soulful Songs To the Party Plus Some Tearjerkers Too.
There are many things that bring me to album for reviewing; obviously I may already know the act, sometimes my iphone does its magic; others it’s the actual artwork …. but sometimes; as in this case the album name intrigued me …. HELLO MOJO! Caught my attention as I uploaded it to the RMHQ ‘Supercomputer’ …. what could it mean?
Obviously I could have read the accompanying Press Release; but that would take the fun away …. IMHO.
So I pressed ‘play’ and sat back, coffee in hand.
Some sultry harmonica oozed out of the speakers followed by Procell’s velvety smooth baritone vocals singing Baby I’m Lost; in a way I might not have heard this century! There are far too many singers from my youth that he reminds me of; but it would be unfair to name any for you in case you would pre-judge this fabulous album.
I’m still not a lot clearer as to why the singer is welcoming his Mojo back (had he misplaced it with his glasses? Did he pawn it when times got rough?) but I’m sure glad he did.
To all intents and purposes this is a Soul Album of the finest hue; but with Classic R&B undertones; making songs like Broken Promise I Can’t Say No and the fabulous The Contender all timeless songs, but with 21st Century arrangements that will leave you glued to your seat.
Procell and producer Zac Harmon have a way of taking very average situations and turning them upside down and inside out until he’s created a song like A Tall Glass of You; which finds our hero ‘drinking to forget’ and name checking and dating the first time he drank various concoctions; until he can’t drink anymore and just needs A Tall Glass of You “and leave the bottle!”
Occasionally; and this was a case in point; I seriously wonder how, after 100 years of Popular Music in a million guises, a songwriter can up with a new ways to say ‘I love you;’ ‘I wish you loved me’ or ‘I don’t love you anymore’ ... but thankfully they can and Derrick Procell and various co-writers certainly can bring new ways and songs to the party; with Who’ll Be The Next In Line and Bittersweet Memory being both smoochy songs and tearjerkers at the same time …… think Smokey Robinson covering The Best Of Al Green on a hot and sweaty Summer night.
Just when you’re least expecting it, tucked away in the middle Procell cranks the temperature up with the title track Hello Mojo! To some extent the ‘message’ probably applies to most of us who hear it; and the call and response chorus will be a sure fire winner in the clubs.
While the accompanying Press Release mentions Motown a couple of times; and I don’t totally disagree; if they are thinking latter day Motown; but to me this sounds like Derrick Procell and Company immersed themselves in Stax and Atlantic retrospectives until 5 minutes before they went into the studio; as these songs all have a mature edge to them that Motown rarely managed.
For my Favourite Song I’ve been playing three over and over again to see which would win; Colour of An Angel is absolutely fabulous; and I may come to regret dropping it out of the race so early; but initially the title Skin In The Game grabbed my attention; and the sizzling and sultry arrangement has kept it ever since …. it’s an absolute ‘certified banger‘ as my teenage Granddaughter would say.
Which only leaves one song; the intense and sensually stifling The Contender; which probably goes ‘hand in glove’ with Hello Mojo! with our man; in best Brando stylee in ON THE WATERFRONT begging for “one more chance/Just one more shot‘ at the title/girl.
Which all comes back to my wondering where writers get their ideas from …… who in their right minds would think a songwriter in 2021/2 would be able to take inspiration from a 1954 film; albeit a Classic to describe a tumultuous love affair?
Not me; but I’m so glad Derrick Procell and co-writer/bass player Bob Trenchard have much deeper and technicolor imaginations that I’ve ever had!
If you know a Soul/R&B fan who hasn’t bought new music since their College Days and constantly grumbles “They don’t make songs and albums like they used to” ….. but a copy of HELLO MOJO! for them ….. it’ll be lighting the blue touchpaper on a firework!
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY