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Orange Blossoms
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2008
In Mofro's previous three albums (Blackwater, Lochloosa, Country Ghetto) the songs have been a soulful gumbo of blues, funk, rock, and gospel. Slow rollers, mid-tempo groovers, juke house rockers, and soul-baring gospel (some of my favorites). Most songs represent poignant reflections of southern living, whose lyrics often transcend the normal bounds for blues ballads. Some of the best songs of the decade in my opinion. Their simplicity (in instrumentation, arrangement, and emotive delivery) is the key to their resonance with listeners.

Although Orange Blossoms includes some beautifully polished soul recordings, tight musicianship, and JJ's gutsy vocals, Mofro seems to have strayed from a winning formula a bit. Daryl Hance's slide guitar, always subtle, is mostly lost behind the horns and strings. The mid-tempo groovers dominate the record, making many of the songs sound basically the same (Devil You Know, WYLF, On Fire, Higher You Climb). The tempo goes from slow to slower on She Don't Know, The Truth, and Dew Drops. The more upbeat Ybor City is a straight-ahead blues shuffle that lacks the edge that usually makes Mofro stand out. Funky, yes. Dynamic, not so much. The lyrics just don't seem to resonate quite as well as in previous records, and the subject matter is much more typical of the genre (girls, relationships, etc.).

If you're a Mofro fan you'll still really like Orange Blossoms. It's just a little more over-produced than you're used to. If you're just getting to know these guys, check out Country Ghetto or Lochloosa first. I hope JJ and Mofro get a little more back to basics on their next release.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2008
I'm a long time fan of Mofro (i have no problem with the name change, though i know many do...they changed labels -thats it) and i listened to this album at least 4 times through by now. each album is amazing, and this one is no different. but it is different! there are less references to florida and more mention of the seductive ladies...hmm...i hope the road isn't getting to them! however, that aside, i am blown away by jj's voice on this album. he goes from that smokey gritty swamp sound then to a smooth high tone on 'she don't know' and everywhere in between. they are continuing to evolve but maintaining their mofro sound. Mofro will be present in charlotte in october and i'm counting the days to hear this album live. right on!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2008
Orange Blossoms is a great album, and if you like JJ Grey & MOFRO, you should like this album. Like all their music, Orange Blossoms effortlessly evokes feelings of coming of age, living, and loving in a Florida quickly consigning itself to the dustbin of history. That's a lot of emotion to pack into 12 songs, but JJ Grey's vocal abilities and MOFRO's musical prowess easily carry the load.

As a native Floridian straight out of the bayous of Northwestern Florida, I'll say there's good reason why the word "swamp" is often mentioned in the same breath with this group's name. After a childhood of nights on the porch, staring into the darkness of the bay trees and listening to the crickets chirp, I can tell you that the music playing in my head belonged to this band, I just didn't realize it then.

That being said, this album isn't as strong as Lochloosa or Country Ghetto. As I listened to the album for the first time, I felt a slight disappointment at the relatively subdued feeling of the first few songs. My final opinion of the whole album changed when I hit Track 11, however. "Ybor City" is, for me, the best song on the album by far. Its upbeat tempo, raucous lyrics, and musicianship really set it apart.

If the slower songs are more your predilection, as they sometimes are for me, several of these also stand out as particularly poignant. "I Believe (In Everything)" and "Dew Drops" hit the spot.

Other strong numbers on the album include "On Fire" and the title track, "Orange Blossoms," probably my second favorite song.

Bottom Line: If you like JJ Grey & MOFRO and enjoy the sounds of a Florida which has more culture and meaning than Disney World, Condos, and Tourists, then this album is a must have.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2008
These guys are a great band with a range of musical styles. One of the reasons I wasn't blown away by this outing is it is mostly a "blue-eyed soul"/R&B set, unlike their other stuff which is more wide ranging. I love the inspirations behind this sound: the late 60's early 70's sound that had a fat horn sound, background singers who step in to hit chorus with a wavering note, organ lead-ins, and funkified twangy guitar. But in a lot of places he moves past that period to something closer to the later 70's where it was losing its edge. Think of the difference between early Sly Stone, Dobie Grey, or Al Green and their later stuff -- it became over produced, the horns became trite vs insipired, the background vocals headed toward soft rock. On this dics you get the gamut. You have tunes that hit the mark like "Everything Good is Bad" (could be a great Sly Stone tune), "On Fire" (a raw funky number), and "I Believe" (which has the build of a classic R&B ballad). But others that don't seem up to J.J Grey's previous high standard like "Orange Blossoms" (seems like an attempt to craft the Gulf Coast answer to Seger's "Night Moves"), "The Truth" and "Dew Drops" (cheesy strings), and Move it On (intended to be a sexy groove, instead borders on Broadway). If you are a J.J. Grey fan, there's enough here to like to make it worth buying (or cherry pick the tunes you want via download). If you are new to J.J. Grey, go with the albumn Country Ghetto instead -- better introduction to the tremendous talent this guy has.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2008
JJ Grey & Mofro have done it again. I own all four of their CD's and they are all outstanding. When you play a Mofro CD you can see the Spanish moss, pine trees, and kudzu in your mind. You can smell the steaming hot cornbread and black eyed peas and feel the humidity of the deep South. From laying outside in the grass watching fire flies to heading to Ybor City to find a woman to love you "out yo mind" Mofro takes you there with more authentic funk and soul than anyone else. On "Orange Blossoms" JJ Grey works in horns, strings, and background singers to augment the soulful slide of Daryl Hance, the "in the pocket" drumming of Anthony Cole and the funky keyboard of Adam Scone. The musicianship is extraordinary and the production rivals anything Stax or Muscle Shoals has produced.

Buy this CD and get your tickets to see them live. Mofro tours relentlessly and they will be appearing somewhere close to you. Don't miss out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2010
Wow! Very reminiscent of "Sly And The Family Stone". Lots of bass, great background chick vocals, funky guitar, nice lead vocals. Funky, funky, funky. Definitely not over produced. As a matter of fact my only criticism is that it wasn't very well produced. The bass was far too heavy, & I heard crackling in the intro on one of the songs. However, funk prevails. I have all the MOFRO CDs & this does not disappoint! As I write this I am listening to Joe Bonamassa's "John Henry". If you like blues rock buy this one too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2010
I liked this album but I find it somewhat removed from old style blues and at times I find the base a bit too prominant, like hip-hop and it overshadows the vocals. Nevertheless the cut 'on fire' is magic. Everytime i listen to it I am moved. You cannot listen to this and not rock! It made me buy the album. I am not sorry to have discovered this band.
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on January 11, 2009
No doubt, their previous albums have a somewhat different sound, but is that bad? JJ Grey says this was actually the least produced album of them all. Some of the songs are previously unrecorded but have been part of their live past repertoire including 'WYLF' (What You're Looking For)--a funky grooving tune more reminiscent of the 70s but with a twist, "seen it on your face this is what you're looking for...)", 'Dew Drops' (a gripping, true tale of a young boy with a vivid imagination who grew up with a mean father "sipping on dew drops float above the green treetops and it all walking on moonlight in the day"), and 'Move it On' (a sultry, sweaty slow tempo with a distinctively sexy trumpet prominent. All but one are Grey originals--lyrically and musically, and all still have the Southern/Florida roots that have become Mofro's hallmark. At 41 years old, he quickly admits to the maturation of his voice and that shows more on 'Orange Blossoms' than any of the past. His voice is strong, dripping with soul, and smooth as the waters of N. Florida's St. John's River on a crisp and clear spring morning. If you have a chance to catch these guys live, go for it. They take their music to a whole new level. A 2 hour+ setlist always includes a varied mix from all 4 of their records. It's Southern/Funky/Blues/Rock meets jam band genre and you'll find you won't be able to stay still from start to finish.
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VINE VOICEon June 19, 2009
As Country Ghetto had a bigger sound than Lochloosa, Orange Blossoms has a bigger sound than Country Ghetto. Not only is the sound more electric than Mofro's first two albums, now there are prominent horn arrangements. As J.J. has observed, Tony Joe White has always been one of his main inspirations, and even the swamp fox himself has used horn arrangements. However, the key to Mofro's music is that no matter how many instruments J.J. adds to the sound, he always makes sure to leave space between the notes. The album starts with a spare drum riff with plenty of space between the beats. Guitar and keyboards come in, but never filling in the empty space. J.J.'s voice comes in, and even when the horns hit there is still space between the notes. That is, and has always been the essence of Mofro's music, and it is impressive that no matter how much bigger the arrangements have gotten, that essence remains. This is Mofro's most rock-sounding album. That isn't a bad thing. It is just different. If you are still looking for another Blackwater or Lochloosa, it should be clear by now that you probably aren't going to get it. J.J. is evolving as a musician, but if you keep an open mind, you might get into it.

For further recommendations, see my review of Lochloosa and Country Ghetto.
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I am a biased reviewer because I love Mofro. Not necessarily for their recorded work but more because they are such a great live act. I have seen them over 15 times and they are always on their game.

Their records are good with a blend of funk, blues, country and soul.

On "Orange Blossoms", they seem to be extending out a bit from their regular swamp/funk genre. J.J. Grey really writes about things and the songs are becomming more heartfelt. The horns have been amped up in this work.

Opening track "Orange Blossoms" is typical Mofro with Grey singing about his lost Florida. The vocals are very souldful. "WYLF" is a wonderful soul song with a deep, deep funk groove."On Fire" rocks out and could become a standard song heard at a strip club (this song is great live). "I believe (in everything") is an optimistic, slow tempo tune that could have come off of a Donny Hathaway album. The highlight of the cd is the cover of "Everything good is bad" whihc "pops" to life with Grey's barking vocals, pounding drums and a terrific horn section.

"Orange Blossoms" is a product from a group that has always been on an upswing and deserves more attention.
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