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...SINGS THE BLUES (2005)
...Sings The Blues - Click to view!It's the night before Father's Day, the house is dimly lit, my son's baby toys are strewn wildly about the living room floor. On the kitchen table I see scraps of construction paper left over from my daughter's assembly of a card, and in the faint distance I hear the sounds of soulful crooning. I quietly arise from my chair. Like a ninja I maneuver through the obstacle course of toys. Through the windows, the headlights of an oncoming car shine for a moment, illuminating the room and I dive and roll into the hall. That was probably a bad move; I am not very ninja-like when I dive or when I roll. Motionless, I lay in the hall for a moment. Regaining my ninja like composure I adjust to the lack of light and my ears once again are able to hear the music. As I stealthily tiptoe closer I can tell the sound is coming from my daughter's room. She has once again fallen asleep listening to her beloved Pigeon John. As cute as I think this is, I do have to wonder if it's truly healthy. And with the release of Pigeon John's latest ...Sings the Blues, I am put in an interesting position. I must approach this review as a fan, a father and a professional. Not exactly the end of the world, but for some reason it seems to be somewhat difficult.

Pigeon John, best known for his witty, irreverent lyrics that sometimes have spiritual tones and sometimes don't, continues to blur the lines of secular and Christian boundaries and does so with a hip in his hop. We are treated to the sounds of a man who seems to be at the top of his game lyrically and musically. Pigeon is finally able to convey the emotional intensity in the music he creates as he does with the words he expresses. More than once during the CD I was amazed at how wrapped up I became in the song's premise. The perfect example of the music matching the emotional tone of the words is when PJ transparently describes his daily battle of choosing to live a selfless life, the lasting effects of pornography and the many temptations of being human in the last song "Draw Me Close." I can't recall the last time a song felt so real to me, as though it was written about me.

Elsewhere on the album we find PJ teaming up with his Living Legends friends, The Grouch and Eligh on the bouncy "Sleeping Giants." The song opens with a mock meeting between record execs complaining to PJ that his records aren't selling because he doesn't rap enough. They remind him that he was signed as a rapper and that they want "more" rap. Dialogue from the movie "I Am Sam" is how "Matter 101" begins; another moment where lyrical and musical tones are matched on the emotional level. "Nothing Without You" and "She Cooks Me Oatmeal" are both love songs to some degree—as close as we can get to love song on a Pigeon album anyway. "Nothing Without You" is a great song that uses the chorus to weave together verses about his wife and his relationship with God. The three remixes, "Life Goes On," "Emily," and "Identity Crisis" are fairly decent but border on being album filler. Two new songs are also included—"Rainy Day" which features RedCloud and the aforementioned "Draw Me Close."

The album is in its entirety, rock solid. This album is completely an enjoyable listen to start to end. I mentioned in the beginning the dilemma of three roles to fill in this review. As a father I can't help but wince when I hear in "Upside Down Rotten":

"I used to drink Bacardi and go to strip clubs, now I still wanna go to strip clubs."

Could just be some good ol' fashioned PJ humor, but it still makes me a bit apprehensive. Parents beware: "Emily," "Rainy Day," and "Nothing Without You" all deserve an extra close listen before you slide the CD in on your next family road trip. If this is a small taste of things to come, I can guarantee that Pigeon John's Quannum Projects debut will own me.
- Josh Weekly
September 2005
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