Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on James Patrick Morgan, an Atlanta-based pop-rock artist who recently released a new studio effort, an EP entitled ‘Art + Work = Love.’ The new collection of songs was inspired by the likes of Sam Cooke and Dave Matthews, suggesting Morgan has a fairly eclectic set of influences. Thus, are these five new tunes worth your time? Let’s find out!
The opening track of the EP, ‘Alone,’ is fairly indicative of the album’s sound: it’s pop music, albeit pop music that’s well-penned and infectiously catchy. “A girl like you should never feel alone,” Morgan sings in the hook of the chorus as waterfalls of electronic instrumentation rise and fall around him. The sound is well-produced, but its strongest elements are when glimmers of instruments like the acoustic guitar shine through the landscape. Those are hints of a sound that’s a bit different than traditional pop.
‘Expected’ is a much more ambitious effort than its predecessor. It incorporates much more soul influence with an instrumental landscape that’s far more compelling than that of ‘Alone.’ The brass section is especially good, and the personality of ‘Expected’ will get people up out of their chairs and grooving. ‘Fly Like An Eagle,’ the album’s only cover, follows with a pop-tinged take on the classic Steve Miller tune. It’s actually a song that’s suited very well for Morgan’s style of music.
Morgan continues his journey through pop ballads with ‘Right Mistakes,’ a cute pop song, even if it’s something we’ve all heard in varying capacities dozens of times before. The conviction of the performances make it worthwhile, however, and that goes for the finale, too, a track called ‘Sign Language.’ It's another ballad, but in this case, the Dave Matthews influence really seeps through Morgan’s sound.
None of these songs are especially profound. There aren’t any songs on this EP that are going to be catalysts for quality discussions. They don’t attempt to do that at all, though. It’s pop music. You can dance to it, it’s well performed, and tracks like ‘Expected’ allude to an artist who may evolve beyond entry level pop music at some point in his career. Hence, ‘Art + Work = Love’ is not an effort to scoff at. It’s good pop music worth hearing if you dig the genre.