Tuesday, March 19, 2013

RECORD REVIEW: JJ Heller "Loved"

JJ Heller
(Stone Table Records)

I recently conveyed to a friend
my disdain for current popular
music, and if suddenly became
deaf and never heard another 
song again, it would be okay.
I'm glad that didn't happen before
got to hear this record. 

We live in such an angry, hostile world today. And in this abrasive age that's over-saturated with Rap and Screamo "music," JJ Heller offers an oh-so welcome breath of fresh air.

In the grand tradition of such singer / songwriters as Joni Mitchell, Sara Groves and James Taylor, Heller's latest release, Loved is a well-crafted record, filled with catchy and inspiring pop tunes. Produced by Ben Shive and Cason Cooley, this ten-song collection is a collaboration between JJ Heller and her writing partner / husband, David Heller.

"LOVED is a collection of 
songs that belong together; 
there's a common thread 
connecting all of them."
-JJ Heller 

The songs contained in Loved are sweet and delicate — captivating and uniquely personal. And in Heller's signature fashion, her angelic vocals are combined with engaging melodies — making for a perfect vessel in which to project honest and pure messages of love, hope and faith.

Loved kicks off with "If You Fall" — a compelling statement of true love... If you fall, I fall with you. If you hurt, I feel it too. Even if my heart turns black and blue, I will love you.

A true highlight, "For You" offers a bold testament... If I can talk, then I will sing for you. If I can walk, then I will dance for you. As long as I can breathe, my heart will beat for you.

"Our challenge for LOVED
was to create something 
beautiful and new."
-JJ Heller

Reminiscent of Alison Krauss, "Redemption" is a delightful treat. It's an amazing, uplifting song of promise and encouragement... Someday we will remember how to fly. Then we will rise like embers burning bright. Everything broken will be whole again.

The title track, as well as "Create in Me" and "Stay" are all beautiful and delightful gems in the vein of Sara Groves — offering wonderful words of inspiration.

"Better Things" is another record highlight...  I have a mission that is only mine to fill. Fear may try to blind my eyes, but it can never break my will. Hey, is that a fiddle I hear in the background? If so, kudos! This one sounds simply amazing.

"The way this record 
came together completely 
exceeded my expectations!"
-JJ Heller 

An edgier-sounding track, "Come Back to Me," reaches out to someone who is clearly in need of love and compassion... I hate to see you all alone. You won’t find what you’re looking for. Your home is never far away. I’ll be here when you come back to me.

The notion of losing a child is simply unimaginable to any parent. But JJ and Dave tackle this issue eloquently in the record's debut video single, "Who You Are."

Loved comes to a powerful end with Heller's beautiful and personal love letter to God — "I Believe"... The truest things I know are those I cannot see. From my birth to my dying day, I believe.

Yes, at a time when I find myself growing increasingly disenchanted with current pop culture, JJ Heller's new record certainly gives me something to cheer about.

-Christopher Long
(March 2013)



C'MON! -

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