Reviews

A.J. Croce Releases Just Like Medicine


By Brian Rock

A.J. Croce has the cure for your summertime blues, and it’s Just Like Medicine. Croce, son of the late, great Jim Croce, continues his father’s tradition of well-crafted, heartfelt insights into the longings of the heart on this, his ninth studio release. Although he inherited his songwriting skills from his father, his voice is clearly descended from Solomon Burke and Dr. John.

“Gotta Get Outta My Head,” is a swampy, New Orleans groove. With hypnotic repetition of the song title and an almost Gregorian chant backing chorus, Croce creates a funky, haunting soundscape. But when he hits the chorus, he breaks out in full-throated bluesy reverie, instantly shattering any comparisons to his father’s work. He is clearly his own man with his own style.

Croce kicks off “The Heart That Makes Me Whole” with his Professor Longhair style, New Orleans piano. Croce’s powerful, soulful voice is gritty and visceral as he sings, “You won’t make the same mistake, ‘cause there ain’t no more heart to break. Better give me back the heart that made me whole.” With the New Orleans piano, backing gospel singers, a blistering horn section, and even a guitar break featuring the legendary Steve Cropper, there’s almost too much awesome here to be contained in one song (And that’s not even mentioning that Croce cowrote the song with Leon Russell).

“Cures Just Like Medicine” is a Solomon Burke inspired Soul track that is absolutely worthy of the name drop.

“The Other Side Of Love” evokes Curtis Mayfield with a splash of “Everybody Needs Love” by the Drive By Truckers.

“Full Up” is an overflowing cup of pure musical joy.

On track after track, Croce captures the essence of classic, Ray Charles era Soul to create a modern Soul masterpiece.

And in the end, he does find a way to pay tribute to his father. The song “Name of the Game,” was the last song that his father ever wrote. The opening chords are a distinct reminder of “Workin’ At The Carwash Blues.” But A.J. puts his own, soulful stamp on the composition to bring the song full circle. The song, and the album, are Just Like Medicine for the music lover’s soul.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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