PJ Morton

New Orleans

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PJ Morton arrives as a new artist on his hometown Cash Money label, but the New Orleans native is known in the gospel world as the son of Bishop Paul S. Morton, and as the writer of the Dove-winning "Let Go" (commonly referred to as "Let Go, Let God"), released by DeWayne Woods in 2006. R&B fans serious enough to scan credits have seen the name linked to albums from India.Arie, Anthony David, Jagged Edge, and Monica. Since 2010, he's performed keyboards and background vocals for Maroon 5. From several angles, Morton has toed the mainstream. He's poised for a splash, but he's rather unique with his affable, down-to-earth personality, lack of artifice, and persistently positive mix of R&B, rock, and pop. With over a decade in the industry and a handful of independent albums to his credit, Morton sounds undeniably seasoned on New Orleans, supported by a shifting lineup of musicians, appearances from obvious hero Stevie Wonder, Busta Rhymes, and Maroon 5's Adam Levine, and a couple assists from fellow genre-crossing producer Warryn Campbell (Mary Mary). The album is his most polished work, largely made of relatable songs that deal in devotion, working through conflict, and walking away. It's agreeably middle of the road with a few standouts. "Only One," which features a Stevie harmonica solo and sounds as if it could have been written by Ne-Yo, is a joyous highlight, while "Work It Out" and "Trade It All" are among the year's better adult R&B ballads. The less memorable material is saved by Morton's likability and warmth.

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