One of the most well-respected hip hop groups in the Christian hip hop underground was a group called LA Symphony, which featured, among others, Pigeon John, Flynn Adam, Sharlok Poems and Joey the Jerk. For the past three years, Joey the Jerk has been working toward his first solo release since his 2003 album Average Joe. His new project is called Joey's Dream. The first Joey's Dream album, Mold Me, was finally released through the hip hop label illect Recordings.
Joey's Dream is a unique release for the illect family. To my knowledge, illect has never released anything other than hip hop since its inception. Joey's Dream has a bit of hip hop influence (inevitably, given his LA Symphony membership), but it's more of an urban pop rock album than a hip hop album. The EP gets off to a nice start with "Why;" it's a soothing pop rock song, with a little bit of reggae influence. If you were familiar with Joey the Jerk's raps, and wondered if he would be a good singer on Mold Me, you will be pleased to know that his voice is very enjoyable, and fits the pop rock sound very well. Another pop rock goodie comes next, called "Wake Me Up." It has a similar feel to that of "Why," but it's a little more upbeat. It's both radio-friendly and solidly-written. I'm in love with the hook, which says "Wake me up Lord so I can see, see past me to be the one who helps those in need, shake me up Lord till my heart beats, we were meant to be revolutionary." The hook features some pretty vocals from a woman named Milan Barnes-Shuford that make it all the better. "Mold Me" follows, and tones the album down quite a bit. The whole song seems to come from a very humble heart, as Joey seeks to become a new man and to learn what true love is. "Wake Me Up" and "Mold Me" serve as my top two tracks from Mold Me.
The most rocking song on the EP, and the official first single, is called "Poetry In Motion." It's actually structured more like a rock song than any of the other songs, with more electric guitars, and a rock-ish effect on Joey's vocals. "Poetry In Motion" also features guest vocal work from Superchick bassist Matt Dally (who is also responsible for the production work for Mold Me - I tip my hat to the quality sound production that Dally brought to the table). The softest song of the bunch is a sweet ballad called "Sierra." It's a beautiful acoustic ballad set in waltz timing, and it has the potential to stir up lots of emotions in the hearts of the more tender listeners. It's really basic as far as the music goes, with just an acoustic guitar and some chimes here and there; it makes for a definite highlight. "Piece of Sunshine" is one of the more unique tracks Joey's Dream offers up. It's got a bit of an urban feel with a drum loop keeping the beat, and Joey singing in a somewhat deeper tone. It's a track that could probably fit well on a Joey the Jerk hip hop album. The final track is one called "Experimental." The lyrics are more in line with Joey's hip hop roots, while the music is more on the rock side (though not as edgy as "Poetry In Motion"). Joey's singing isn't the best in "Experimental," but overall, it's a good song to end the EP.
For a record label that only puts out hip hop records, illect Recordings made a good decision in releasing this Joey's Dream EP. If it wasn't an album from a hip hop artist, I don't know if it would've come through illect, but regardless, I'm really glad they saw the quality of this release and gave it some shine. You can stream the entire album for free on the illect Bandcamp, and if you like what you hear (hopefully you do), you can buy a copy right there on that same page. Mold Me is high quality pop rock that seems to otherwise be lacking in the music industry these days.- Review date: 9/7/11, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: illect Recordings
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