Thursday, February 25, 2010

jr on jj

I have listened to jj's album "jj n° 2" a bunch recently and this particular song about 200 times:

For starters, research proves it's very difficult to find out the singer's name.

Her voice reminds me of the husky ache of Yaz's Alison Moyet. While Moyet can mourn with the best of them, sitting in a dark room staring at the rain frustrated, choked with grief, dying of broken heart, pleading with her loved one "don't go", she can also put up a fight, tell off the operator, and tell her lover "I ain't never gonna let you go!"

jj similarly offers an album that strikes a moody balance between the quiet, bruised search through biting nostalgia and the bark of rebound and recovery where tough love pulls no punches and master plans to be feared are laid.

"From Africa to Malaga" opens with Blondie "Heart of Glass" style percussive palpitations and kicks in with the keen-edged opening statement:

It's too easy to cry 
when everything eventually dies.
If not today then maybe tomorrow. 
Don't let that thought slip away, 
let it come out and play.

Out of the gates, jj rules out the best excuse in the book for throwing in the towel. The song begins with The End and looks for the "and then...."

Throughout the song jj argues that dead ends are, in fact, new beginnings:

A thought that you found, 
takes you to town, 
smashes your face, 
burns out your heart, 
then you go home and turn it into art....
Don't cry for the time you lost in your life.

Ok, so the "turn it into art" part may be pushing it, but I buy it, and take all it to mean: "It's brutal out there. You are gonna get yourself into scrapes again and again. You gotta keep getting back up again round after round and make something vital out of it."

And I keep spinning this song round and round

Yaz, and tomboy tough attitudes aside, I think I'm also hooked because the anthem immediately conjured images of the movie "My Bodyguard" in my mind.

Particularly the vision of tiny Chris Makepeace finally facing his bully nemesis Matt Dillion, while Makepeace's bodyguard Adam Baldwin coaches from the sidelines. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. Even though the trailer voice-over is ridiculous.

The message of both the song and the film bear repeating: We are born losing, but don't let that stop you. As jj says, "No matter how down you are you'll eventually rise."

(Which I originally misheard as "no matter how dumb you are...." Which raised an eyebrow and some questions.)

And, yes, the album art is a bloodied mary-jew-ahna leaf.

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