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When you think of music from Iceland I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is Bjork and The Sugarcubes. What probably won’t come to mind is a blues band that has a front man that sounds like one part John Hiatt two parts Tom Waits with just a pinch of Warren Zevon tossed in for humor. However that’s what you get when you listen to the JJ Soul Band and that’s part of what keeps you listening or at least that’s why I’ve kept listening and listening over the last twenty-four hours.J.J. has one of those voices that you feel like you’ve heard before. The first few times I played this disc I wracked my brain trying to decide who he sounded the most like, once I convinced myself to stop worrying about that I got down to really enjoying this album. J.J. Soul and his songwriting partner Ingvi Thor Komaksson are a force to be reckoned with. Ingvi alone has won several songwriting awards, together the two received a prize in the USA Songwriting Competition for their song City Song from the 1997 album of the same name. Well its twelve years later and their songwriting is still up to those high standards. One listen to Bright Lights will tell you that. The music is a combination of blues, jazz, R & B, rock and just about everything else in between. The band likes to call their style blues-confusion, but there’s really nothing confusing about their sound. The music is played smoothly and JJ Soul’s, often gravelly sounding voice adds the mood, particularly on Bad Weather Report. His voice sounds ominous, just like the threatening weather he’s singing about. I’ve Been Had Again is a sophisticated song of a relationship gone wrong, sung like a man that definitely is through with the love game. Then there’s the fun Latin inspired Jazz And Tarantella, that gets your toe tapping, which is probably one of the best tracks on the disc, as well as the peppiest.The songs aren’t the only thing that will have you raving about Bright Lights. The musicianship of this album is equal to any artist in their genre. Perhaps that’s because most of the players have studied music as well as teach it. These guys are proof that that old adage “Those that can’t do it, teach” is far from true. This band has some of Iceland’s finest musicians playing in it. This album might not be for a true blues aficionado, it samples to many styles to please that kind of listener, but those music lovers that are in it for great music alone, will want to grab a copy of Bright Lights. It is a listening experience not to be missed.These guys from Iceland and that one guy from the UK really know how to put out a first class album that is both fun and sophisticated at the same time. So the next time you’re asked to name a great artist from Iceland, think of JJ Soul Band and Bright Lights.Andrea Guy
We are happy to announce that JJ Soul Band has once again been selected as a finalist in the 100% Music Songwriting Contest!
JJ Soul Band performs "My Funny Valentine" (1996, Icelandic National Television - RUV)