Lochloosa – Mofro
Swampland Records 2002
As J.J. Grey goes, so goes Mofro. The band's second album finds its frontman in a wistful and emotive mood. As a result, Mofro's Lochloosa is a much more subdued album, eschewing chunky bits of funk in favor of stripped-down, brooding soul.
A desperate longing for times gone by seems to be the running theme on this album, as Grey pines away for the comforts of his hometown on the title track. With simple instrumentation behind him, he vocally cuts loose and wails about the place he loves. By the same token, he uses the soulful, harmonica-laced shuffle of "Fireflies" as a metaphor for change, asking "Where did all the fireflies go? I heard someone say, 'Lord, they ain't never comin' back.'" This is a man who can't escape his roots, and that's certainly evident on "The Wrong Side," an acoustic-driven ambler that concludes with a great vocal breakdown and inspired outro.
The majority of the songs on Lochloosa fall into the category of ballads. Most are enjoyable, moving emotional paeans to the aforementioned Florida hometown, but some, such as "Ten Thousand Islands" and "Gal Youngin’," fall into the territory of grinding dirges. This album would be better served with a little more variety of tempo, although the slinking, dirty shuffle of "Six Ways From Sunday" and the driving swamp-funk of "How Junior Got His Head Put Out" are welcome changes of pace.
Ever since the release of their debut album, Mofro has seemingly had a revolving door for the members of the band. Only Grey and guitarist Daryl Hance have remained on board from the beginning, and, not by some coincidence, they have written all of the tracks on Lochloosa. For the most part, it’s still J.J. Grey’s baby, and his impassioned vocals and unbridled soul certainly connect with the listener. Producer Dan Prothero has done his usual bang-up job, and Mofro’s sophomore effort is dripping with heart and spirit.