Reviewed by Andrew Midgley
Justin Goss' second project is a free-to-download album which not only sees him get away with the line, "I'm bragging 'cause my church is the bomb," but takes in a Michael Jackson tribute and several sleek R&B ballads explicitly situated in marriage, all without breaking swagger. 'The Pursuit Of Happiness' is a credible, bouncing, pumping slice of aural treacle, boasting production values that position its protagonist as a kind of monogamous Usher. By the time the comedy value arrives - hold on - Goss has established himself as a songsmith with an ear for a tune ("I Won't Sleep" and "Prescription" are laden with hooks) and an ease with R&B sonic tropes (the lazy bass on "Krazi (ftg Black Knight)" is very Black-Eyed Peas). This allows "#thatsgoodjohn" to surf in on a wave of listener confidence: you kind of go with "I gotta wake up at 7/'cause we gotta get to church early/'cause worship practice starts at 9am" despite its rather surprising premise. JG presses this further, however, and after being introduced to the projectionist and the sound guy (he's called Drew), you realise that you are hearing the first ever R&B track about the logistics of setting up on a Sunday morning. The album proceeds along this worship-focused narrative with a beautiful cut covering Kim Walker's "Your Love Never Fails", and bows out with "B.Y.E." (Best Year Ever), which embraces the moment and glorifies God for Goss' blessings over the last 12 months. The wise front-loading of 'The Pursuit Of Happiness' with big songs means that JG finishes in credit despite a late dip (apart from "#thatsgoodjohn", the songs that stick in the memory are all over by track five), but the sense of capability endures. Guests Flo and Mission up any lost ante, and after another song about the Christian approach to leading a family humbly ("Teeter-totter" follows "Prescription" with "My kid's got a snotty nose/My daughter needs some new clothes. . .I need to change right now"), one is left with tunes going round the head and admiration at the author's audacity. Bravo, JG.
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