Wednesday, April 30, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: JJ Heller "I Dream of You"

JJ HELLER
I Dream of You
(New Day Distribution)
________________________

Acclaimed singer
and songwriter
JJ Heller returns
with an engaging
new record —
just in time for
Mother's Day.
________________________

The latest from JJ Heller delivers exactly what longtime fans have come to expect, love and crave. Although she has woven family-friendly material into the fabric of her albums throughout her ten-year recording career, the singer / songwriter, wife and mother has made family — particularly the unique relationship between parent and child, THE focus of her new 12-song collection, I Dream Of You. However, if the notion of an album consisting only of lullabies merely conjures up images of purple dinosaurs, you're in for a very pleasant surprise.

Comprised of six brand spankin' new tunes, updated versions of five longtime favorites and one cover song, I Dream of You is as sharp, smart and infectious as any of Heller's previous nine records.

Written by JJ and her collaborator / husband, David, the title track is a bona fide gem and kicks off the record quite nicely. The delicate sing-along offers an engaging vocal, accompanied by piano, acoustic guitar, Dylan-flavored harmonica, subtle kick drum and authentic hand claps. Wherever you go, I want you to know  When I dream  I dream of you.

Another Heller & Heller highlight is "When I'm with You." Sweet and simple, it's an honest and heartfelt love song. I could never count all the ways that you change me, baby. Every day the sky is a deeper shade of blue  when I'm with you.

“So many fans have told 
me they listen to my music
when they’re trying to find
peace and rest.”
- JJ Heller


“This project was created to 
not just calm the hearts of
children, but the child inside 
every adult as well.”
- JJ Heller

The lone cover tune, "Take it With Me" (Tom Waits / Kathleen Brennan) is one of the record's most compelling offerings. A bit darker than the traditional-type lullaby, it's absolutely beautiful and  brilliant, nonetheless. In a land there's a town. And in that town there's a house. And in that house there's a baby. And in that baby there's a heart I love. I'm gonna take it with me when I go. I'm gonna take it with me when I go.

Magical and poetic, "Sailing the Sugar Sea" is as delicious as a bowlful of aural Skittles — possibly the set's crowning jewel:

I will miss you  
when you're sleeping.
Will you find me 
in your dreams?
Will you look for 
me in rainbows?
I'll be sailing 
the sugar sea.  

Snappy and happy, the piano / vocal "Boat Song" also is a captivating delight. Oh, do you know we belong together? Oh, do you know my heart is yours?

As a parent, and a diehard JJ Heller fan, I Dream of You speaks to me on a very personal level and it ranks among 2014's best and brightest new releases. (www.jjheller.com)

-Christopher Long
(April 2014)

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