Album review: Heavy hitter PJ Morton knocks it out of the park with ‘Live Killer Set’

PJ Morton’s music career has seen him in a series of different musical environments since he graduated from Morehouse College in 2003 with a degree in marketing. The one-time Young Money Cash Money artist is currently a keyboardist and backing vocalist for Maroon 5. He has collaborated with a notable who’s who of artists such as India.Arie, LL Cool J, and Jermaine Dupri as a musician, songwriter, and producer, all while maintaining his drive to create music as the leader of his group, PJ Morton and The Crusade.

This tireless work ethic has led to three studio albums and most recently, an enthralling live release. Released in July, Morton’s “Live Set Killer” truly lives up to its name. The album weaves through an eclectic mix of new original material, fun, unexpected covers and fan favorites.

Steven Taylor
PJ Morton portrait by Steven Taylor

Recorded live at the famous Henson Studios to an intimate audience, “Live Set Killer” retains its studio-quality sheen while including a certain electricity and swagger that only comes with a live performance. The son of gospel singer Paul S. Morton, PJ often works his band into the frenzy of a post-modern church revival with swirling organ, regal yet soulful horns, gritty guitar and powerfully emotive vocals.

Album highlights include the elegant “Mountains And Molehills,” which is reminiscent of “Songs In The Key Of Life” era Stevie Wonder, whom Morton collaborated with on his (Morton’s) 2013 album “New Orleans.” The Morton-penned “We Can Work It Out” is also a standout with its simple, chant-like chorus and building arrangement.

Morton’s selection of covers run from classics like Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” and Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” to the unexpected “Thank You For Being A Friend (‘Golden Girls’ theme song)” and “Where Everybody Knows Your Name (‘Cheers’ theme song).” But regardless of the song choice, Morton adds his signature soulful panache to the selection.

Overall, “Live Set Killer” is a testament to the state of soul music today. Morton’s ability to fit into a slew of different musical climates has allowed him to create a sound that is comfortable and well worn while also decisively edgy and modern. This album not only highlights Morton’s strengths as a singer and keyboardist but also as an arranger, band leader, producer and visionary. Along with artists such as Anthony Hamilton and Raphael Saadiq, PJ Morton is cementing his spot in this generation’s pantheon of soul superstars.

  • PJ Morton and The CrusadeLive Show Killer Cover Art
    “Live Set Killer”
    Release: July 31, 2015
    Purchase: CLICK

 

ABOUT Spencer Kilpatrick

Picture of Spencer Kilpatrick
Author Spencer Kilpatrick is a part-time writer and full-time ding-dong. He is currently scurrying around Big Water, Utah.

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