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JMSN 'It Is' review

JMSN paints from a diverse sonic palette on latest record 'It Is' - Joseph Dexter reviews.

Ben Smith

Date published: 11th May 2016

Image: JMSN

It’s not often that an artist gets signed, then dropped, and then signed and dropped again to then collaborate with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. It’s easy to see why JMSN or Christian Berishaj’s talents are sought after. He throws elements of jazz, blues and funk into a pot and what comes out is a fusion of D’Angelo and Timberlake - it simply just works. 

Opening with the soft, title track ‘It Is’ JMSN draws you in and eerily builds up to the soft violin strings and accompanied piano. He sets the tone for the album here, reflecting on his troubled past with his family and love life issues.

JMSN switches things up with the more upbeat, soulful track ‘Power’. The funky guitar gives it a summery feel which could easily fit as a bonus track on a record like Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange

It’s easy to tell where the Detroit singer draws inspirations from. With nods to artists like James Blake from his earlier pieces of minimalist, darker work but ‘It Is’ has more of an early 2000s Justin Timberlake feel. He doesn’t stray too far from his roots, allowing the pain of the troubles that Michigan is facing to rub off on his work with a melancholic feel to each track.

With the likes of ‘Fuck U’ and ‘Funk Outta Here’ JMSN expresses his no nonsense attitude, calling for people to just cut the shit and be honest with themselves. You could argue that each song revolves around the idea of self-help with some motivational spoken-word interludes and his rant about honesty on ‘Be a Man pt. 2’. 

As you cross into ‘Cruel Intentions’ JMSN sets the scene of a lounge room performance with the addition of the jazz infused bass guitar and piano keys. The album flows seamlessly into each track allowing you to get lost and end up not knowing where one song ends and the next begins.

You can tell that Christian had fun with this album with tracks like ‘Good Ol’ Case of the Blues’ and ‘Be a Man’ sounding more like a jamming session than his usual stripped back, darker style. 

What’s interesting is the diversity of the album. Tracks range from the heartfelt ‘Possessed’ to the reggae infused ‘Hypnotised’.

The album only features two artists with Atlanta’s own Arima Ederra on ‘Hypnotized’ and London based Denai Moore on ‘Fantasize’ adding their rich vocals to the soulful tracks. 

The album is not too far from the minimal, darker sounds that many JMSN fans are used to, but that hasn’t been lost as each song brings up something completely different from the rest. You can tell why the likes of Kendrick and Soul have recruited his talents as he so effortlessly fuses genres giving you something unique with each passing minute. 

JMSN plays Deaf Institute on Sunday 30th October

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